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Eric Peterson, Published March 02 2012

Thorson breaks school record, sparks Packers to region girls title game

FARGO – Cassidy Thorson didn’t realize the significance of her scoring output until minutes after the game was over Friday at the Fargo Civic Center.

“They told me in the locker room, so I didn’t even know how many points I was scoring,” said the West Fargo sophomore. “I was just in the game playing.”

Thorson poured in a school-record 32 points to spark the top-seeded Packers to a 73-66 victory against Grand Forks Central in the East Region girls basketball semifinals.

“Cassidy definitely is an explosive scorer,” Packers head coach Barb Metcalf said. “As a sophomore, she plays pretty mature. She is just a strong player.”

West Fargo (20-1) advanced to the region championship game for the first time since 2006. The Packers also clinched a berth to the North Dakota Class A state tournament.

The fifth-seeded Knights (8-13) play Fargo South at 11:30 a.m. today at the Bison Sports Arena in a state-qualifying game.

“We really needed a couple stops, and we didn’t get them when we needed to,” Central head coach Brent Hintz said. “They are a tough team to get stops against. They have so many weapons.”

The Knights cut the West Fargo lead to 54-49 after junior forward Taylor Hammer basket with 8 minutes, 5 seconds remaining in the second half. The Packers countered with the next eight points, a run that included back-to-back Thorson 3-pointers. An Amanda Levin layup gave West Fargo a 62-49 lead with 6:35 remaining.

“I was feeling it right there, and my teammates were setting good screens to get me open,” Thorson said.

The Knights clawed back into the game again, however, slicing the West Fargo lead to 63-59 after a sophomore guard Nicole Fennell steal and layup with 3:10 to play. West Fargo answered with five consecutive points. Thorson drained a 3-pointer to give the Packers a 68-59 lead with 2:30 remaining.

“Tonight they moved the ball around and somehow Thorson ended up open all the time,” Hintz said. “You have to give her credit down the stretch. She got the open shots and she made them.”

Thorson capped her night, sinking a pair of free throws with seven seconds remaining. Those points gave her the school record. LeAnn Krueger had the previous mark, scoring 30 points in a game in 1983. Thorson was 12-for-18 from the field and 4-for-6 from the foul line. The 5-foot-9 guard also added four assists.

“I was pretty proud of myself,” Thorson said. “I didn’t think it would ever happen.”

The Packers played without starting senior guard Hannah Schnepf, who was out with a knee injury. Schnepf led the EDC in assists per game during the regular season.

GF CENTRAL (8-13): Hammer 5 6-11 16, Fennell 3 7-8 13, Bacon 3 2-2 9, Olson 4 0-2 8, Hart 3 0-0 6, Reller 3 0-0 6, Medrano 1 3-5 6, Johnson 1 0-0 2, Ray 0 0-0 0, Lindsay 0 0-0 0, Becks 0 0-0 0, Shirek 0 0-0 0, Burgard 0 0-0 0. Totals 23-40 18-28 66.

WEST FARGO (20-1): Thorson 12 4-6 32, E. Krogh 6 0-0 12, Hummel 4 1-3 9, Levin 3 0-1 6, Miller 1 3-3 6, Baltezore 0 4-5 4, Lennon 1 1-2 4, A. Krogh 0 0-0 0, Gooding 0 0-0 0. Totals 27-56 13-20 73.

Half: WF 36, GFC 31. 3-point goals: Bacon, Medrano, Thorson 4, Miller, Lennon. Total fouls: GFC 17, WF 19. Rebounds: GFC 32 (Hammer 7), WF 23 (Hummel 7). Assists: GFC 10 (Fennell 3), WF 19 (Thorson 4, Baltezore 4). Turnovers: GFC 30, WF 20.

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

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