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CLASS B BOYS: No. 1 North Star hangs on to beat Shiloh Christian

GRAND FORKS -- Daniel Grande admits he may have gotten away with one.

It was late in the fourth quarter when Grande intercepted a pass near midcourt and drove for a layup. As he neared the basket, to elude a defender, he went behind his back from right hand to left hand with the ball, then finished the play with a right-handed layup.

"I haven't done that move in a game before," Grande said. "I think I got away with a bit of a travel. I didn't have control of the ball."

But that's how the fourth quarter went for Grande.

The junior was a do-it-all sparkplug for North Star as the Bearcats edged Shiloh Christian 52-50 on Friday in the semifinals of the Class B state boys basketball tournament.

The Bearcats (26-0) will bid for a second straight state title Saturday against Beulah.

Of North Star's final 10 points, Grande scored four and assisted on two other baskets. Then Jake Hagler hit two free throws with 8.7 seconds left for a 52-48 lead, icing the win.

"Daniel's done that before," Bearcats head coach Jeff Hagler said. "Jake wasn't 100 percent after he tweaked his ankle (in the first half). We needed that from Daniel -- he came up huge. Those two are both capable of taking a game over."

Despite being a little hobbled, Jake Hagler nearly had a triple-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Grande added 12 points and Colton Braun had 11.

Shiloh took its final lead at 43-42 when Aaron Hultstrand scored from underneath with 4:36 left. Twenty-one seconds later, Braun scored from underneath off a hook pass from Grande in the lane. Grande made it 46-43 with his behind-the-back move and layup.

"It just happened," Grande said of the move. "I've done it once or twice goofing around in practice, but never before in a game. I reacted to the situation."

Shiloh pulled even when Hultstrand hit a trey from the right of the key. But Josh Haugen broke the tie when Grande scooped a pass off the dribble to an open Haugen, who scored from close range with 1:49 left. Two Grande free throws with 41 seconds left made it 50-46.

"I was just going with the flow, having fun and taking what was there," Grande said. "If I'd have thought about some of that stuff before it happened, I probably wouldn't have gotten it done."

Shiloh made it a close game with a big spurt early in the second half. The Skyhawks went on a 14-2 run to go up 36-30, hitting three treys in the spurt, and led 38-33 with 2:48 left in the third.

Hultstrand finished with 17 points and Matt Rask 14, the two combining to go 14-for-26 from the field to lead the Skyhawks (23-4).

"The kids came out in the second half with a purpose, executing the offense, getting better looks and knocking down shots," Shiloh head coach Mike Dwyer said. "We were playing our game. But you have to give (the Bearcats) credit. They made some shots and it was back and forth the rest of the way."

North Star closed the third on a 7-0 run to go up 40-38.

Jeff Hagler credited a Grande defensive play -- diving onto the scorer's table to save a loose ball -- as providing a spark.

"They were shooting so well and we were struggling," the Bearcats coach said. "But Daniel went flying into the table for the ball. That was a huge momentum thing. He got us going."

North Star 16 26 40 52

SC 15 22 38 50

NS: Hagler 6-18 5-6 17, Grande 4-12 3-5 12, Braun 5-11 1-7 11, Larson 3-7 0-0 6, Haugen 3-3 0-0 6, Weston 0-3 0-0 0.

SC: Hultstrand 7-15 1-4 17, Rask 7-11 0-2 14, Lambert 3-15 1-1 8, Dwyer 2-8 0-0 5, Miller 1-3 0-0 3, Bearstail 1-5 0-0 3.

3-pointers: NS 1 (Grande 1), SC 6 (Hultstrand 2, Lambert 1, Dwyer 1, Miller 1, Bearstail 1). Free throws: NS 9-18, SC 2-7. Total fouls: NS 11, SC 13. Rebounds: NS 31 (Hagler 10), SC 34 (Hultstrand 8). Assists: NS 13 (Hagler 9), SC 10 (three with 3). Steals: NS 3 (Grande 2), SC 1 (Hultstrand 1). Blocks: NS 6 (Grande 3, Weston 3), SC 3 (Lambert 2). Turnovers: NS 8, SC 9.