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Class A State Boys Basketball Roundup: Minot, West Fargo to meet for state championship

BISMARCK -- Second-half rallies are becoming commonplace for West Fargo's boys basketball team.For the second straight night, West Fargo put together a comeback in the final 18 minutes to help it claim a victory at the North Dakota Class A state ...

BISMARCK - Second-half rallies are becoming commonplace for West Fargo’s boys basketball team.
For the second straight night, West Fargo put together a comeback in the final 18 minutes to help it claim a victory at the North Dakota Class A state tournament.
The Packers’ latest comeback came Friday night against Fargo Davies in the semifinals. West Fargo chipped away at the Eagles nearly the entire second half until it finally celebrated a 58-55 win at the Bismarck Event Center. The victory came on the heels of an overtime win over Bismarck Century on Thursday in the quarterfinals.
West Fargo trailed 37-27 with 14 minutes, 39 seconds remaining.
“Credit to Davies,” said West Fargo senior forward Creighton Pfau, who led the Packers with 17 points. “They are a great team, and they got a big lead on us. Our coach talked about a special toughness that we needed to show to get these wins, and I think we have had a little bit of that because that’s what has helped us get back in each game and win them.”
Down 10, the Packers rallied to tie the game 37-37 with 10:18 left when Pfau got a layup to fall.
The Packers (23-3) didn’t take a lead in the second half until sophomore guard Joe Pistorius hit a 3-pointer putting West Fargo up 51-49 with 4:14 left to play. West Fargo never trailed after that bucket.
“I was happy with our defensive possessions,” West Fargo head coach Josh Downey said. “Guys were coming up with loose balls. I challenged a couple guys at halftime, and they responded by making plays when we needed them. They closed the game out.”
Davies had a chance to take the lead in the final 30 seconds. Junior guard Matt Veit drove from the perimeter to the hoop and pulled up for a jumper, but Pfau got a hand in front of it and was able to come down with it. He was fouled and sent to the free-throw line with 3.9 seconds left.
Pfau made both free throws, and West Fargo was able to hold on the rest of the way.
“West Fargo has played that way all year, and they sort of had a similar game (Thursday),” Davies head coach Bart Manson said. “We had a chance. They made a play down the stretch, and it came down to that. We turned the ball over, and they were able to get some layups off of those which allowed them to chip away at the lead.”

West Fargo hasn’t played in a title game since 2009. The Packers will play Minot at 7 p.m. Saturday in the championship game.
Veit led the Eagles with 15 points. Davies (20-6) plays Grand Forks Red River at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in the third-place game.
Defending champ Minot tops Grand Forks Red River
BISMARCK - It took Grand Forks Red River 12 minutes to reach the 20-point mark Friday.
It took most of the remaining 24 minutes of the game for the Riders to get another 20.
Minot’s stingy defense ended the Roughriders’ bid for a state title with a 65-42 win in the semifinals of the North Dakota Class A high school basketball tournament.
The Roughriders averaged 68.3 points a game entering the state tournament. Their previous low for points in a game this season was 60.
“It’s a testament to Minot’s defense,’’ Red River coach Kirby Krefting said. “We didn’t shoot very well. They were pretty aggressive, getting in our face. And they rebounded.’’
The Roughriders actually led 20-12 when Austin Slaughter hit a fast-break layup with 5 minutes, 58 seconds left in the first half. It was still 22-17 Red River when Minot closed the first half on a 12-2 run, taking a 29-24 halftime lead they never relinquished.
“We went to a trapping defense near the end of the first half,’’ Minot coach Dean Winczewski said. “We got some turnovers and got some up tempo going.”
The numbers showed Minot’s defensive dominance. Red River shot 16 of 59 (27.1 percent) for the game, including just 21.2 percent in the second half. Against the tall Riders, Minot held a 58-32 rebounding advantage. Senior 6-foot-4 forward Braydon Lund grabbed 18 rebounds.
The Riders were still within 37-33 with 14:44 left after Braedan Hanson hit a turnaround jumper in the lane. But Minot responded with a 13-2 run, in one stretch holding Red River scoreless for 5 minutes, 58 seconds. Most of the Magicians’ points in the spurt were either on free throws (five) or offensive rebound put-back baskets (two).
KyJuan Johnson had a game-high 17 points to lead the 24-2 Magicians. Lund added 15 points to go with his boardwork, and Jesse Roberts scored 10.
Slaughter scored 16 points and 10 rebounds for the 16-10 Roughriders, with Hanson scoring 12.
Bismarck edges Devils Lake in consolation semifinals
BISMARCK - Bismarck edged Devils Lake 77-70 in the North Dakota Class A boys basketball state consolation semifinals on Friday at Bismarck Event Center’s Exhibit Hall.
Senior guard Connor Hellebust scored 24 points to pace the Demons (16-10).
Junior forward Zach Dahlen led the Firebirds with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Devils Lake ends its season 14-12.
Bismarck plays Bismarck Century at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in the fifth-place game.

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