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Michael Weber / Bismarck Tribune, Published January 09 2011

Holt scores 23 points as Oak Grove boys basketball team wins battle of two top-10 teams

BISMARCK – One can’t help but wonder what might have been for Fargo Oak Grove had Evan Holt played in the North Dakota Class B boys basketball state tournament last March.

Holt was the Grovers’ leading scorer (16.6 points per game) when he was ordered by his doctor to stop playing basketball and allow a fractured vertabrae in his lower back to heal. That was late in the regular season. Oak Grove went on to qualify for the state tournament and finished sixth.

“Yes, we did miss Evan last year. We managed to make it to the state tournament, but we sure missed his scoring,” Oak Grove coach Kyle Card said. “He’s a very talented player who has the ability to score in bunches, and from anywhere on the court.”

Holt is healthy again and back for his senior season. So are a host of senior teammates who are determined to get back to state. On Saturday, Holt scored a game-high 23 points as the No. 2-ranked Grovers improved to 10-0 with a

64-54 win over 10th-ranked Dickinson Trinity during the Shiloh Christian New Year Invitational.

Holt tossed in 25 points the previous night in an 83-65 victory over Solen.

“It’s great to be back again. I can’t tell you how tough it was having to sit out the whole postseason last year,” said Holt, a 6-foot-3 guard. “It means a lot to be able to play my senior year. We have a lot of seniors and the expectations are pretty high for us. We feel we have the talent to go a long way.”

The Grovers showed it Saturday afternoon on the Shiloh Christian gym floor.

With Holt scoring 16 points and a relentless pressure defense wreaking havoc, Oak Grove built a 36-19 halftime lead and never looked back.

Holt closed out the first quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Grovers a 16-9 advantage.

That capped off a 10-2 run. Later, he finished a half-ending 9-1 run with a dunk.

“That had to be one of the best halves of basketball we’ve played this year,” Card said. “Our pressure really bothered Trinity, and our offense had a nice flow to it. This was a big challenge for our kids and they responded in a big way. It’s great to see your team play so well against good teams.”

The Grovers stretched their lead to 52-28 in the third quarter, but the Titans battled back to make it a nine-point game at 60-51 with 3:15 remaining in the game. However, Trinity didn’t get closer the rest of the way.

“We battled back ... we didn’t quit and we’re happy about that,” said Trinity coach Gregg Grinsteinner, whose team fell to 7-2. “But Oak Grove out-executed us on both ends of the court, especially in the first half. They’re a very athletic team and we knew that coming in. They really rattled us with their pressure and they made the simple plays. They’re a tough matchup. They have so many kids who do so many things well.”

Dylan Dangerfield and Shayden Akason, who started on Oak Grove’s state tournament team last year, added 12 and 10 points, respectively.

Alex Klug led the Titans with 17 points.

Half: OG 36, DT 19

D: Mann 4, Clug 15, Schiff 5, Fridrich 8, Olson 5, Volk 11, Kubik 6.

OG: Akason 10, Teigen 6, Lloyd 5, Dangerfield 12, Larson 2, Richards 6, Holt 21, Widmer 2.