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Tom Mix, Published March 02 2012

GF Central trumps South in East Region boys consolation semifinals

FARGO – When Grand Forks Central has needed a spark the last couple games this season, it called on senior guard Sean Norton.

Norton answered the bell again on Friday, scoring 21 of his 30 points in the second half of the Knights’ 79-75 win over Fargo South in the consolation semifinals of the East Region boys basketball tournament at the Bison Sports Arena.

Grand Forks Central advances to play West Fargo in a North Dakota Class A state tournament qualifying game at 1:15 p.m. today.

“He’s been there for us down the stretch and is averaging about 26 points in the last nine games of the season,” Grand Forks Central head coach Dan Carlson said. “He’s a good decision maker and can knock down free throws when he gets fouled going to the hoop.”

The Knights led 37-31 at halftime, but the Bruins would make the Knights work for their points in the second half.

South used four different press defenses in the game, and the assortment of pressure got the Bruins back into the game. However, it never put South ahead.

“We wanted to come out and play up-tempo,” South head coach Mike Hendrickson said. “We just couldn’t get over the hump. Whenever we got to within one or two points, then (Central) would get it back to five or six points.”

Norton had a lot to do with that, hitting 7 of 9 free throws and seven field goals in the second half.

David Olson and Nick Moe each scored 20 and 11 points, respectively, for the Knights (9-13).

“Norton was a tough player to guard,” Hendrickson said. “We tried to take them out of a half-court offense, and when we used our face-guarding press, we were able to get them to panic and turn the ball over.”

South had an opportunity to tie the game with 21.6 seconds to play, but Carter Schweitzer split a pair of free throws after being fouled by Central’s Micah Hale.

Olson answered with two free throws, extending the Knights’ lead to 78-75. Paxton Lloyd had a 3-point attempt fall short on the Bruins’ final possession.

Todd Nicklaus scored 22 points to pace South, who finish the season 9-13.

CENTRAL: Norton 11 7-10 30, Olson 7 5-8 20, Moe 3 5-6 11, Hape 3 0-0 6, McWilliams 2 0-0 6, Gause 1 1-2 4, Hale 1 0-0 2. Totals 28 18-26 79.

SOUTH: Nicklaus 10 2-3 22, Poss 8 4-4 21, P. Lloyd 2 7-7 11, C. Lloyd 2 2-2 7, Schalow 2 0-0 5, May 2 0-0 4, Fahrman 2 0-0 4, Schweitzer 0 1-4 1. Totals 28 16-20 75.

Halftime: GFC 37, FS 31. 3-pointers: Norton, Olson, McWilliams 2, Gause, Poss, C. Lloyd, Schalow. Total fouls: GFC 15, FS 20. Rebounds: GFC 33 (Olson, Gause 9), FS 36 (Nicklaus 10). Assists: GFC 9 (Norton 4), FS 15 (Nicklaus 6). Steals: GFC 9 (Olson, Gause 3), FS 6 (Nicklaus 5). Turnovers: GFC 7, FS 11.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 451-5651