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Grafton tops Watford City

FARGO - Andrew Wysocki didn't let his bum left ankle get the best of him Friday night against Watford City.

Wysocki scored Grafton's first eight points and gave his team its first lead just 30 seconds into the second quarter.

The Spoilers outscored Watford City 16-4 in the quarter to gain the upper hand and never let up down the stretch as they took a 61-47 victory and brought an end to the No. 1-ranked Wolves' unbeaten season in the Class B state tournament semifinals at the Fargodome. The loss dropped Watford City to 25-1.

"I'm not going to let a little ankle sprain keep me down," said Wysocki, who played about six minutes and scored no points after injuring the ankle in the first quarter of Grafton's 50-48 quarterfinals victory over Lisbon on Thursday.

"It's part of the game," Wysocki said. "You get injured, you've got to suck it up the next day."

Grafton's victory sets up a potentially classic state championship game, and a David vs. Goliath battle, against much smaller Turtle Lake-Mercer at 7 p.m. today.

Grafton (25-2) has an enrollment of 275, the largest of any team in the state tournament and one of the biggest in Class B. Turtle Lake-Mercer (25-1), meanwhile, has just 56 students in grades 10-12.

"They're a heck of a team," Grafton coach Mike Hanson said. "It's going to be two hot teams going at each other."

While Wysocki hit the go-ahead shot early, Hanson felt the Spoilers' switch to a 1-3-1 defensive zone shook things up well enough to help them gain the lead.

"(Watford City senior Justin) Shipman was eating us up when they got him on the block," Hanson said. "We tried to make it a little tougher for their entry pass and it worked."

Shipman had nine points in the first quarter but finished with 15. Along with almost every other Wolves player, the senior post struggled to find his offensive groove after the Spoilers made their defensive switch.

"We didn't run our offensive very well," Wolves coach Randy Cranston said. "We stood around. We looked baffled by their zone."

Grafton center Anthony Kliniske scored the last six points of the runaway second quarter. The 6-foot-6 senior's fadeaway shot in the left post that he released with four seconds remaining before halftime gave the Spoilers a 29-18 halftime lead.

Kliniske finished with 16 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks as his team avenged a 62-43 loss against the Wolves earlier in the season.

Watford City shot just 20 of 59 (34 percent) from the field in the game and had 16 turnovers.

Cranston thought the Wolves lacked aggressiveness, which led to their inability to cut into the Spoilers' lead.

"If you're not aggressive, good things aren't going to happen."

Watford City junior Kevin Sanford enjoyed another stellar game, scoring a team-high 19 points.

Apart from Sanford and Shipman though, Watford City scored just 13 points.

"We've played better games and give credit to Grafton," Cranston said. "They made a switch right away and we didn't react to the switch as good as we had in the past."

Dustin Monke

Monke came to The Dickinson Press in July 2006 as the newspaper's sports editor and was hired as its managing editor in March 2013. During his tenure at The Press, Monke has won multiple awards for sports reporting, feature reporting, column writing, page design and photography. He was a key part of The Press winning the North Dakota Newspaper Association's General Excellence and Sweepstakes awards in 2009 and 2012, and oversaw The Press' Sweepstakes and General Excellence wins in 2014, as well as its national first-place honors for Community Leadership in the Inland Daily Press Association and contributed to the first-place Inland award for Investigative Reporting. As the newspaper's editor, he writes an occasional Sunday column, is a member of The Press' Editorial Board, contributes feature stories and breaking news, designs pages, and oversees the day-to-day operations of the newsroom and editorial staff. In his free time, he enjoys watching sports and action movies, exercises whenever his schedule allows, and spends every minute he can with his wife and son.

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