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Eric Peterson, Published January 26 2011

Fargo South finds an extra gear in boys basketball victory against Moorhead

Mike Hendrickson used a single word to explain why his team fared better against Moorhead in its second meeting with the Spuds this season.

“Intensity,” the Fargo South coach said.

The Bruins scored 27 points off turnovers and never trailed in the second half en route to a 76-68 victory in nonconference boys basketball at the South gym.

“Our defense was on,” said South guard Ronny Kazane, who had 20 points. “People knew their assignments … so it was kind of easy for us to get stops and stuff like that.”

The Bruins (8-3) have won their past eight games. Moorhead (10-2) has lost its past two after starting the season with a 10-game winning streak.

The Spuds earned a 70-65 home win when they played South in early December.

“We turned the ball over,” said Spuds coach Corey Zimmerman. “That was the difference. We don’t turn the ball over and the game is not like this.”

South led by as many as 15 points in the second half.

The Bruins took a 56-41 lead after junior forward Todd Nicklaus scored an inside basket with 8 minutes, 27 seconds to play. That bucket capped a 16-6 South run. Six different Bruins scored during that key stretch. Kazane scored two baskets during the run. Both hoops were layups that came off Moorhead turnovers.

Kazane scored his team-high point total coming off the bench. The 5-foot-9 senior scored 10 points in each half and also added three steals.

“That was his best game by far,” Hendrickson said. “Not only just scoring, but everything he did also defensively. … Tonight he was pretty focused and what he had to do.”

The Spuds didn’t fade, however, clawing their way back into the game in the final minute.

Moorhead trimmed the South lead to 71-68 after Aaron Lien sank a 3-pointer from the left wing with 55 seconds to play.

Lien, a 6-4 sophomore, ended with a game-high 25 points. He scored 24 points in the first meeting.

“Our guys are resilient,” said Zimmerman. “They’re not going to quit. They’ve made big plays down the stretch here every game we have played.”

The Bruins countered with the game’s final five points from the foul line to spoil the Spuds comeback bid. Kazane sank two free throws with 15 seconds to play for the final margin.

“Moorhead is a good team,” Kazane said. “When a good team makes a run, you kind of get nervous, but you stay confident, believe in your team and try to get stops.”

MOORHEAD (10-2): Fernholz 4 0-0 9, Lien 10 2-2 25, Widner 5 5-7 16, Hand 0 2-2 2, Watnemo 5 2-2 14, Wilmer 0 0-0 0, Anderson 0 0-0 0, Ellingson 1 0-0 2. Totals 25-53 11-13 68.

SOUTH (8-3): Charles 2 2-4 6, Parker 3 2-3 9, Horner 1 0-0 2, Deng 4 5-8 13, Okland 3 3-4 9, Poss 2 0-0 6, Kazane 6 5-8 20, Ernst 2 5-10 9, Nicklaus 1 0-0 2. Totals 24-55 22-37 76.

Half: FS 36, MHS 31. 3-point goals: Fernholz, Lien 3, Widner, Watnemo 2, Parker, Poss 2, Kazane 3. Total fouls: MHS 25, FS 17. Fouled out: Watnemo, Okland. Rebounds: MHS 34 (Hand 11), FS 36 (Ernst 8, Okland 8). Assists: MHS 19 (Fernholz 8), FS 20 (Okland 5). Turnovers: MHS 19, FS 14.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com