Title caps North Star's perfect season
MINOT -- After beating every opponent this season by 16 or more points, North Star found itself in an uncharacteristic spot of being in a close game Saturday.
And it was with a state title on the line.
Nervous? No, Jake Hagler relished the situation.
"It was fun,'' the North Star sophomore point guard said. "Sure, I'd rather have a blowout, to be honest. But you're not a competitor if you don't like that (close score). That's where you want to shine.''
The Bearcats did, pulling away to a 63-55 win against Grafton in the championship game of the Class B boys high school basketball tournament.
It was the first state title for North Star, which closed with a perfect 27-0 record. Grafton finished 21-6.
The start of the game was all North Star, as the Bearcats jumped to a 14-0 lead. But Grafton was within 18-15 after one quarter and 28-27 at halftime. Early in the third the Spoilers moved ahead 37-33 on back-to-back treys by Nic Lundquist and Jake Hanson.
"The way they can control tempo, it was a concern,'' North Star coach Jeff Hagler said. "But our defense stepped it up.''
North Star answered with a quarter-ending 13-2 spurt, seven of the points coming off Grafton turnovers. Hagler scored eight of the points, Daniel Grande three and Matt Swanson two. At one point, the Bearcats scored seven points in one minute.
Jeff Hagler had wondered during how his team would react to a close game.
"We got the right answer,'' said Hagler, who was named Class B coach of the year. "Jake and Daniel took over. Grant (Lindahl) was basically playing on one leg. It's pretty amazing for two sophomores to be at the level they are.''
Lindahl, the Bearcats' leading scorer, sat on the bench for about three minutes at the start of the run after suffering an ankle injury.
Grafton wasn't done. The Spoilers rallied to within 51-48 when Adam Jiskra completed a 3-point play with 4:13 left. Again, however, the Bearcats had an answer.
North Star went on an 8-3 run. Hagler started the decisive spurt with two free throws. Grande scored underneath on an assist from the high post by Lindahl, who returned late in the third quarter. Then it was Grande to the 6-foot-7 Lindahl inside for a layup. Swanson hit two free throws for a 59-51 lead with 1:01 left.
"I was hoping Grant would be back out there to do his thing,'' Jake Hagler said. "I knew he'd finish it. It's his final game; he wasn't going to sit it out.''
Grafton also lost 6-foot-3 center Cody Dravland at the start of the run when he was called for his fifth foul.
"That was huge,'' Grafton coach Mike Hanson said. "That took away our best inside defender, our best rebounder. But he was in foul trouble all night. We just had to survive it.
"You're always worried about playing a team with their firepower. They're a great team. Our kids did a pretty good job. But defensively they were tough.''
Hagler wound up with 22 points to lead North Star. Lindahl added 18, Grande 15 and Swanson eight as they accounted for all the Bearcats' scoring.
Jake Hanson had 21 points and Thomas Houdek 16 to pace the Spoilers.
Note: Philip Shanilec of Midway-Minot was named Class B Senior Athlete of the Year following the game.
North Star 18 28 46 63
Grafton 15 27 41 55
NS: Jacob Hagler 22, Grant Lindahl 18, Daniel Grande 15, Matt Swanson 8.
G: Jakeb Hanson 21, Thomas Houdek 16, Adam Jiskra 7, Cody Dravland 6, Nicholas Lundquist 5.
3-pointers: NS 6 (Lindahl 4, Hagler 1, Grande 1), G 6 (Hanson 4, Lundquist 1, Jiskra 1). Free throws: NS 13-21, G 5-7. Total fouls: NS 12, G 19. Fouled out: Dravland. Rebounds: NS 23 (Swanson 7), G 27 (Houdek 8). Assists: NS 10 (Hagler 6), G 14 (Jiskra 4). Turnovers: NS 11, G 14.
Fargo Oak Grove 70, Minot Ryan 66
Shayden Akason went out in a big way.
The senior ended his high school basketball career by sparking Fargo Oak Grove to a win against Minot Ryan in the fifth-place game.
Akason scored the game's final five points to rally the Grovers to the victory.
A 3-point basket by Ben Magnuson -- his 14th of the tournament -- gave Ryan a 66-65 lead with 48 seconds remaining.
Akason answered with a 3-pointer from the right wing 14 seconds later to give Oak Grove a 68-66 advantage. After Ryan was unable to score, Akason was fouled and hit a pair of free throws with nine seconds left to ice the win.
Akason finished with a game-high 26 points. That included 14 of the Grovers' 17 points in the final quarter. Evan Holt added 25 points, hitting four 3-pointers, for the Grovers.
Magnuson's 20 points led the Lions.
Minot Ryan 19 39 50 66
Oak Grove 20 35 53 70
MR: Ben Magnuson 20, Adam Burckhard 14, Taylor Schwan 8, Will DeCoteau 7, Aaron Kasper 5, John Landsiedel 4, Drew Saari 4, Matt Magnuson 4.
OG: Shayden Akason 26, Evan Holt 25, Trey Larson 9, Jordan Richards 6, Tanner Lloyd 2, Dylan Dangerfield 2.
3-pointers: MR 5 (B. Magnuson 4, Burckhard 1), OG 6 (Holt 4, Akason 2). Free throws: MR 11-14, OG 10-16. Total fouls: MR 14, OG 10. Rebounds: MR 36 (DeCoteau 8), OG 34 (Dangerfield 10). Assists: MR 5 (Schwan 2), OG 12 (Dangerfield 4). Turnovers: MR 9, OG 16.
Linton-HMB 66, Standing Rock 39
Linton-HMB took control early and never looked back.
The Lions led 20-11 after one quarter and increased their advantage to 32-16 at halftime and 52-22 after three quarters.
Tanner Purintun's 17 points paced Linton-HMB. Derek Roemmich had 14 points and 15 rebounds.
Marques White Bull led Standing Rock with eight points.
SR 11 16 22 39
LHMB 20 32 52 66
SR: Marcus White Bull 8, Cleveland Iron Cloud 7, Davis Fool Bear 6, Travis Twinn 4, Steath Keener 3, Jalen Steele 3, Jalen Lawrence 2, Kirby St. John 2, Eli Agard 2, Elijah Strong Heart 2.
LHMB: Tanner Purintun 17, Derek Roemmich 14, Kelsey Larson 9, Tobie Wald 6, Ryan Dralle 6, David Schuetz 6, Nathan Weiser 5, Brooks Flyberg 3.
3-pointers: SR 1 (Steele 1), LHMB 3 (Wald 2, Larson 1). Free throws: SR 6-7, LHMB 17-21. Total fouls: SR 12, LHMB 7. Rebounds: SR 27 (Twinn 6), LHMB 42 (Roemmich 14). Assists: SR 6 (Agard 2), LHMB 13 (Roemmich 3, Larson 3). Turnovers: SR 16, LHMB 20.
DeVillers is a sports reporter for the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.