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Published March 10 2010

Region 1 basketball: Akason's run pushes Oak Grove into region final

Fargo Oak Grove’s Shayden Akason said he noticed his team was ultra-focused during pre-game warm ups Tuesday night.

However, no one was more dialed in than Akason.

The junior point guard scored seven consecutive points during an 11-0 fourth-quarter run to help the undefeated and second-ranked Grovers pull away from Maple Valley and capture a 59-46 victory in the North Dakota Class B, Region 1 boys basketball semifinals at the Fargo Civic Center.

“We scored a couple points in a row and I think they put their heads down,” Akason said. “We just kept going.”

Sam Olson got the Grovers off to a flying start with a pair of rim-rocking, two-handed dunks in the opening five minutes.

Olson was initially called for a technical foul for hanging on the rim on the first dunk, but it was waved off following a conference by the referees.

Oak Grove was crisp on both ends of the court in the first half, a stark contrast from Monday night’s slow-moving, disheveled start against Oakes.

Akason drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give put the Grovers ahead 32-19 at halftime.

Olson, who finished with eight points in Oak Grove’s win against the Tornadoes, had nine in the first half.

The Grovers shot 48 percent from the field and limited Maple Valley to 32 percent from the floor before the break.

“First game in the tournament we came out really flat,” Akason said. “We knew we couldn’t do that again or else we were going to lose. We knew we had to come out hard.”

Oak Grove answered every Maple Valley rally down the stretch to seal the win.

The Grovers will face Central Cass for the region title at about 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Fargo Civic Center. Oak Grove defeated the Squirrels twice this season, including a 71-57 win in the District 2 title game.

“We just want to come out hard like we have against them before,” Akason said.

Maple Valley 8 19 35 46

Oak Grove 10 32 44 59

MAPLE VALLEY (18-6): Behm 8 6-10 22, Smith 2 3-4 7,Von Bank 3 0-0 6, Lerud 1 0-2 2, Preston 3 1-1 7, Haseleu 1 0-0 2, Erickson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 10-17 46.

OAK GROVE (23-0): Hesby 1 0-0 3, Akason 6 7-11 21, Teigen 2 0-0 4, Dangerfield 5 3-3 14, Zaeske 1 0-0 2, Richards 1 0-0 2, Olson 5 0-0 11, Larson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21 12-16 59.

3-pointers: Hesby, Akason 2, Dangerfield, Olson. Total fouls: MV 15, OG 16. Rebounds: MV 30 (Behm 12), OG 32 (Akason 8). Assists: MV 7 (Preston 3), OG 9 (4 tied with 2). Turnovers: MV 11, OG 12.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562