Flyers shoot down No. 1 Hazen in state semifinalsGRAND FORKS — Kirby Erickson is a hard guy to please. The Fordville-Lankin/Park River coach wasn’t happy with his team’s performance Friday night in the Alerus Center. “We played a terrible game. We couldn’t shoot,” Erickson said.
By: Greg DeVillers, Grand Forks Herald
GRAND FORKS — Kirby Erickson is a hard guy to please.
The Fordville-Lankin/Park River coach wasn’t happy with his team’s performance Friday night in the Alerus Center. “We played a terrible game. We couldn’t shoot,” Erickson said.
But, he added, “We did everything else pretty well.”
The Flyers did things well enough that they’re headed for the championship game of the North Dakota Class B girls high school basketball tournament.
The third-year co-op handed Hazen its first loss of the season, a 53-45 decision in the tournament semifinals. Fordville-Lankin/PR meets Kidder County for the state title game at approximately 8 tonight.
If the offense was a struggle, the defense was fine. The Flyers held Hazen to 17-of-56 shooting and forced 17 turnovers with their helter-skelter style.
“We played defense like we have the last few games,” F-L/PR junior Lexi Erickson said. “We were aggressive. We used our help defense more because we were pressuring the ball. That really helped today.”
Said Kirby Erickson: “The defense was fine. We always play aggressive defense.”
Fordville-Lankin/PR never trailed. With senior Katie Ralston scoring nine points, the Flyers led 15-7 after one quarter. They built that lead to 26-17 at halftime and 42-34 after three.
The key was the early going, Hazen coach Leland Opp said.
“We didn’t handle their pressure right away. That set their tone,” Opp said.
“We were a step slow. They flat-out wanted it more. They have a good team, very athletic. I think our kids were on their heels instead of their toes.”
Still, Hazen made a late run.
With 4:55 remaining, Allison Opp hit a 3-point shot from the left wing, pulling the Bison within 47-43.
But Ralston struck again. With 4:28 left, she grabbed an offensive rebound and put up an off-balance shot. The basket was good, she was fouled and hit the free throw to complete the three-point play.
“That wasn’t an easy shot,” Ralston said. “I had people around me. I actually was (surprised it went in). But I shoot a lot of weird shots that do go in.”
A Ralston free throw made it 51-43 with 3:34 left. Then Katelyn Waslaski drew an offensive foul with 3:13 remaining and F-L/PR, after playing aggressively the entire way, spread its offense. The Flyers held onto the ball for 1:44 before Lexi Erickson hit a free throw with 1:29 left for an insurmountable 52-43 lead.
“We haven’t worked on it a lot,” Kirby Erickson said of the slowdown. “But we were up seven or eight. They were sitting back in a zone. We moved it around until it brought them out of that zone.”
Ralston finished with a game-high 21 points. Junior center Tessa Zahradka had a double double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Lexi Erickson had 11 boards to go with her seven points.
Stef Bohrer had 17 points to lead Hazen, which dropped to 24-1.
Fordville-Lankin/Park River will take a 23-1 record into the final.
The Grand Forks Herald and The Dickinson Press are both owned by Forum Communications Co.
FLPR 15 26 42 53
Hazen 7 1 7 34 45
FLPR: Sydney Larson 2, Breanna Novak 6, Tiffany McMillan 6, Katie Ralston 21, Lexi Erickson 7, Tessa Zahradka 12
H: Stef Bohrer 17, Allison Opp 9, Breaunna Oakland 5, Kate Breg 5, Brianna Beecher 4, Jenna Maas 3, Sarah Grimm 2
Class B State Girls Basketball Tournament
At Alerus Center, Grand Forks
Hankinson 72, Stanley 37
Kenmare 56, Standing Rock 50
Kidder County 49, New Rockford-Sheyenne 37
Fordville-Lankin/Park River 53, Hazen 45
Seventh place: Stanley vs. Standing Rock, 1 p.m.
Fifth place: Hankinson vs. Kenmare, 25 minutes after fifth-place game
Third place: New Rockford-Sheyenne vs. Hazen, 6 p.m. (NBC)
Championship: Kidder County vs. Fordville-Lankin/Park River, 25 minutes after third-place game (NBC)