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WATCH IT: New Town-Rugby buzzer beater is ESPN's top play

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It counted as a shot. But, Joe Baker admits, it started out as more of a desperation throw.

The New Town senior made the shot of the Class B boys high school basketball tournament during Thursday’s quarterfinals.

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With time expiring at the end of the first quarter in New Town’s game against Rugby, Baker got the basketball just a few feet in front of the Rugby 3-point line. The senior turned and, with a running, jumping motion, threw a baseball-type shot.

The basketball sailed two-thirds of the length of the court, hit the backboard just above the rim and caromed through the hoop.

“When I shot it, I wasn’t expecting it to go in,” Baker said. “But after I put it up, it looked like it could go in.

The shot drew some national attention. After the game, ESPN asked for video of Baker’s shot. It was ranked as the No. 1 play of the day on SportsCenter.

“I’ve never made one from that far out before. I’ve made some from halfcourt. But never from that far.”

Encouragement from the NFL

Flasher’s road to the Class B state basketball tournament received some National Football League encouragement.

Flasher players Tanner and Connor Marion are the nephews of Gus Bradley, the head coach of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. Before the Region 5 championship game, Bradley sent the Bulldogs a YouTube message.

“He told the kids to embrace the moment, to have fun and play your hardest,” Flasher coach Brian Nieuwsma said. “The kids thought it was pretty cool.

“I’m sure there are probably a lot of relatives and school alumni sending teams special messages at this time of the year. But there probably aren’t a lot of messages here coming from the NFL.”

Carr’s big moments

Linton-HMB assistant coach Kyle Carr is no stranger to big events.

While competing for Linton-HMB, the former all-stater played in three North Dakota Class B state high school basketball tournaments. After graduating from high school, he went on to play baseball, first in the Big Ten with the University of Minnesota, then for five seasons in the professional ranks.

Now he’s back on the Linton-HMB bench as an assistant coach to his father, Dan Carr.

“They’re all different in their own special ways,” Kyle Carr said of the athletic experiences. “That raw emotion you see with the players at the B, I didn’t see that anywhere else. It’s the same with the fans. It's quite the excitement, the emotion.”

Some inspiration

Before Rugby beat New Town in overtime Thursday night, one of the program’s all-time greats sent words of encouragement to the Panthers.

Paul Presthus, who helped Rugby win the 1962 North Dakota Class A title, sent Panthers coach Mike Santjer a letter of encouragement.

“He said represent your community well,” said the Rugby coach. “He wrote down 11 things, like execute because that’s what got you here; don’t change things up too much; you have to outwork the other team; you have to have confidence in your ability and you have to remain humble at the same time.

“It was some really good words of wisdom. We read it to them at our guys at the morning shoot around.”

Presthus had some legendary high school games against Phil Jackson, who was a star at Williston High School.

Presthus and Jackson were the star players of the 1962 title game, won by the Panthers.

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Tom Miller
Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department for the past 10 years. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate. 
(701) 780-1121
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