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Tom Miller / Forum Communications Co., Published February 11 2012

Packers fall short against unbeaten Red River boys

GRAND FORKS – West Fargo is the only boys basketball team to stay within nine points of Grand Forks Red River this season.

In early January, the Packers built a big first-half lead and took the Roughriders to overtime before losing by seven.

However, in the anticipated rematch Saturday afternoon, Red River didn’t need any late-game drama.

Four Roughriders scored in double figures as they locked up the East Region regular-season title by beating the Packers 71-59 in the Red River gymnasium.

Red River, the unanimous No. 1 team in North Dakota Class A, improved to 16-0.

The Packers dropped to 9-7.

West Fargo-Red River matchups are a tempo tug-of-war. West Fargo’s traditional patient style contrasts Red River’s usual quickened pace.

“They try to control the tempo,” Red River coach Jason Gregory said. “They try to control who the ball goes to. I thought we did a good job of attacking them for the most part.”

West Fargo coach Greg Limke said his team drifted from the game plan too often.

“(Red River) likes to run more than we do,” Limke said. “We got caught running more than we want. We shot the ball well from the perimeter, but we needed more points in the paint.”

The Packers were 9-for-19 from the 3-point line, but the Roughriders were accurate from deep, as well. Red River was 7-for-16 from long distance.

The Packers came as close as seven points in the second half, although the lead drifted around double digits most of the final 18 minutes.

After West Fargo’s Landon Uetz hit a pair of 3-pointers to pull the Packers within 49-42, the Roughriders responded with four quick points, highlighted by a strong three-point play from Mac Kroeplin.

Kroeplin led the Roughriders with 20 points, with 16 of those coming in the second half. Red River leading scorer Mack Arvidson did the damage in the first half, scoring 14 of his 16 points before intermission.

Red River 6-foot-6 center John Hoplin chipped in 13 points, while teammate Ricky Farroh scored 12.

The Packers were paced by Brady Rotert’s 17 points and 14 from Uetz.

“Red River’s a very balanced team, so you can’t take away just one guy,” Limke said. “It’s going to take a great team effort to beat them.”

Half: GFRR 37, WF 28

WF: Heisler 5, Uetz 14, Young 3, Schock 9, Rotert 17, Wolden 1, Null 2, Johnson 5, Sufi 3.

GFRR: Farroh 12, Arvidson 16, Mitchell 2, Anderson 8, Kroeplin 20, Hoplin 13.