Returning the favor: After losing Tuesday in Fargo, Class A finishes series with split against Class B
BISMARCK -- The Class A Lions All-Star team was looking to return a favor Wednesday night.
After losing in the first game of the series on Tuesday, Class A got the victory they were looking for.
Class A took a 82-77 win over Class B in the Lions All-Star series finale at the Bismarck Civic Center.
"It was great for us," Grand Forks Central's head coach Dan Carlson said. "We thought we had a good basketball team. (Class B) came out with a little more intensity than we had. They had something to prove.
"After taking one in the chin (Tuesday), our guys had something to show that they were a quality basketball team."
Class A stole the show right from the tip-off.
Class A outscored Class B 43-32 in the first half. Class A also won the rebounding battle 20-11 during the first 20 minutes of play.
"We knew coming in that there was talent on both sides of the ball," Milnor's head coach Ben Nelson said. "Both sides played their hearts out."
It was also clear who would be the leader for Class A right out of the gate.
Fargo Shanley graduate and North Dakota State commit A.J. Jacobson scored 22 points -- including a few needed free-throws in the final minutes -- and brought down nine rebounds to help his team.
"It feels really good to beat them since they beat us up in Fargo," Jacobson said. "My legs were a little tired from (Tuesday), but I was just trying to let the game come to me and get my teammates involved a little bit."
Carlson knew his team wasn't done in the first half.
Class B used tough defense to crawl back into the game within the final two minutes. Bench players Jeff Illies from Lidgerwood and North Star's Jacob Hagler led the team with a combined 33 points.
After Illies knocked down two free throws to put Class B within three, Mandan's Erron Collins responded to give Class A its five-point lead.
Hagler came down the next possession and knocked down a three to put the game within two points.
"We talked about getting stops on defense," Carlson said. "We knew they would mount a comeback sometime in the second half, at least one."
After two missed free-throws from Class A, Class B had their chance of tying game. Illies took an open reverse-layup to tie, but the shot didn't connect. Class A went on to go 3 for 4 from the line to secure the victory.
"We were just thinking we had to stop the final push and get the win," Jacobson said.
Both Nelson and Carlson were happy with the way their teams came together and formed chemistry in their short amount of preparation time.
"The guys had a lot of fun and I had a lot of fun being with them," Nelson said. "It's a great opportunity to be here for them and for me."
Carlson was also happy by the way his team managed to battle. He said the teams were evenly matched, so he was glad his team came back to get a win on Wednesday.
"Boy, that Class B group (is) a bunch of athletic guys and some really great athletes," Carlson said. "It was fun to spend a week with these guys."