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Tom Mix, Published March 02 2012

Fargo Shanley defeats Wahpeton in East Region boys semifinals

FARGO – Position is everything in rebounding, but sometimes the ball just bounces the right way.

Fargo Shanley senior guard Thomas Strandemo got a put-back field goal off a missed jumper by A.J. Jacobson in the closing seconds of the Deacons’ 62-59 win over Wahpeton in the semifinals of the East Region boys basketball tournament on Friday at the Bison Sports Arena.

The win clinches Shanley a spot in the North Dakota Class A state tournament next weekend in Fargo.

“I just happened to be in the right place at the right time,” Strandemo said. “(A.J.) was hitting shots all night. Our coaches were on us to hit the boards, and I made sure of it to get to the board that time.”

Fargo Shanley advances to play Grand Forks Red River in the championship game at 8:15 tonight.

The Deacons (16-5) were trailing 59-58 when Strandemo hit his shot. Prior to that, the momentum mostly belonged to the Huskies.

After trailing by as much as 11 points in the second half, Wahpeton took the lead when senior Jeremy Bontjes converted a three-point play in the final minute of regulation.

The Huskies, who defeated the Deacons twice during the regular season, hadn’t led since the midway point of the first half.

“They’ve been a tough team for us this year,” Fargo Shanley head coach Leon Knodel said. “In that stretch where they got back into it, they hit some shots and we didn’t.”

Wahpeton misfired on its possession following Strandemo’s putback and Shanley’s Patrick Strom was sent to the free-throw line, where he made both. Bontjes had a long 3-point attempt bounce wide off the rim in Wahpeton’s final possession.

Wahpeton advances to play Fargo Davies in a state tournament qualifying game at 4:45 p.m. today.

“I don’t think I was ever worried,” Wahpeton head coach Jeff Ralph said of his team trailing much of the second half. “I told the coaches we need to make a run and get a stop and we did that … I thought we had them on the ropes and then they missed the shot. If we get a rebound, we’re probably going to win the game.”

Strom and Jacobson finished with 18 and 17 points, respectively, for the Deacons.

Dylan Alderman added 10 points for the Deacons and Strandemo finished with eight.

Bontjes and Jack Christensen each posted 13 points for the Huskies.

“When Wahpeton made their move, they were playing more physical than we were,” Knodel said. “It’s going to be the same thing against Red River. Red River is a physical team, and we’ll have to match that. We like to shoot and get up and down the floor, but at the same time you have to be physical.”

WAHPETON: Bontjes 4 4-5 13, Christensen 5 3-4 13, Miller 4 0-0 10, Medhaug 3 2-4 8, Wetzel 2 0-0 5, Irwin 2 1-2 5, Pratt 1 0-0 3, Lonneborg 1 0-0 2. Totals 22 10-15 59.

SHANLEY: Strom 4 8-8 18, Jacobson 6 4-7 17, Alderman 3 4-5 10, Strandemo 3 2-2 8, Meyer 2 0-0 4, Nelson 1 1-2 3, Dunn 0 2-2 2. Totals 19 21-26 62.

Halftime: FS 30, W 25. 3-pointers: Bontjes, Miller 2, Wetzel, Pratt, Strom 2, A.J. Jacobson. Total Fouls: FS 12, W 19. Rebounds: FS 31 (A.J. Jacobson 9), W 39 (Christensen 19). Assists: FS 8 (Strandemo, A.J. Jacobson 2), W 9 (Medhaug 9). Steals: FS 6 (A.J. Jacobson 3), W 3 (three with 1). Turnovers: FS 4, W 6.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 451-5651