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Greg DeVillers / Forum Communications Co., Published March 02 2012

Defending champion North Star ekes out victory

GRAND FORKS – Daniel Grande admits he may have gotten away with one.

It was late in the fourth quarter. Grande intercepted a pass near midcourt and drove for a layup. As he neared the basket, to elude a defender he went behind his back from right hand to left hand with the ball, then finished the play with a right-handed layup.

“I haven’t done that move in a game before,” Grande said. “I think I got away with a bit of a travel. I didn’t have control of the ball.”

But that’s how the fourth quarter went for Grande. The junior was a sparkplug as the Bearcats edged Bismarck Shiloh Christian

52-50 on Friday in the semifinals of the North Dakota Class B boys high school basketball tournament.

The 26-0 Bearcats will try for a second straight state title today.

Of North Star’s final 10 points, Grande scored four and assisted on two other baskets. Then Jake Hagler hit two free throws with 8.7 seconds left for a 52-48 lead, icing the win.

“Daniel’s done that before,” Bearcats coach Jeff Hagler said. “Jake wasn’t 100 percent after he tweaked his ankle (in the first half). We needed that from Daniel – he came up huge. Those two are both capable of taking a game over.”

Shiloh Christian took its final lead at 43-42 when Aaron Hultstrand scored from underneath with 4:36 left. Twenty-one seconds later, Colton Braun scored from underneath off a hook pass from Grande in the lane. Grande made it 46-43 with his behind-the-back move and layup.

“It just happened,” Grande said of the move. “I’ve done it once or twice goofing around in practice, but never before in a game. I reacted to the situation.”

Shiloh Christian pulled even when Hultstrand hit a trey from the right of the key. But Josh Haugen broke the tie when Grande scooped a pass off the dribble to an open Haugen, who scored from close range with 1:49 left. Two Grande free throws with 41 seconds left made it 50-46.

“I was just going with the flow, having fun and taking what was there,” Grande said. “If I’d have thought about some of that stuff before it happened, I probably wouldn’t have gotten it done.”

Shiloh Christian made it a close game with a big spurt early in the second half. The Skyhawks went on a 14-2 run to go up 36-30, hitting three treys in the spurt, and led 38-33 with 2:48 left in the third.

“The kids came out in the second half with a purpose, executing the offense, getting better looks and knocking down shots,” Shiloh Christian coach Mike Dwyer said. “We were playing our game. But you have to give (the Bearcats) credit. They made some shots and it was back and forth the rest of the way.”

NS 16 26 40 52

SC 15 22 38 50

NS: Hagler 17, Grande 17, Braun 11, Larson 6, Haugen 6.

SC: Hultstrand 17, Rask 14, Lambert 8, Dwyer 5, Miller 3, Bearstail 3.

DeVillers writes for the Grand Forks Herald