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Tom Mix, Published March 03 2012

West Fargo defeats GF Central to earn berth in Class A boys BB tourney

FARGO – West Fargo benefited greatly from two scoring runs in the second half on Saturday.

The first erased a nine-point halftime deficit and the second put the Packers up for good in their 70-60 win over Grand Forks Central in a state qualifier at the North Dakota East Region boys basketball tournament at the Bison Sports Arena.

The victory earns the Packers a berth in the Class A state tournament set for March 8-10 at the Fargodome.

West Fargo (12-10) opened the second half on a 12-2 run that was capped by a 3-pointer by senior Andy Young.

Minutes later, Brady Rotert started a 10-1 Packers run with back-to-back 3-pointers. The second run put West Fargo up 48-40 with 9 minutes, 10 seconds remaining and it never trailed after that.

“(The runs) were huge,” Young said. “Coach told us the first three minutes of the second half would be crucial. We came out the first three minutes ready to play and that’s what helped us set the tone the rest of the game.”

Young finished with 18 points and six rebounds. Justin Heisler led the Packers with 20 points.

The Knights controlled the first half and took a 36-26 lead at the break. David Olson scored 11 points for Central in the first half.

“Our defensive intensity had to get a lot better after the first half,” West Fargo coach Greg Limke said. “Central was making a lot of plays on us. We had to really dig deep and our defense got our offense going. … It started on the defensive end and then pretty soon we got in the flow and shots started to fall.”

West Fargo shot 26 percent from the field in a semifinal loss to No. 1-ranked Grand Forks Red River on Friday. It shot 48 percent (24 of 50) from the field on Saturday.

Sean Norton paced the Knights with 24 points. Olson and Killian Gause each added 15 and 10 points, respectively, for Central. The Knights finish the season 9-14.

“(West Fargo) struggled shooting the ball (Thursday), but they started knocking down some shots which got them some confidence,” Grand Forks Central head coach Dan Carlson said. “It came down to that. They made some shots when they needed to and we didn’t, but it’s tough when they’re playing hard like that.”

Rotert connected for four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points for West Fargo, who return to the state tournament. The 5-foot-9 junior was on last year’s state tournament team, but didn’t play.

“I know all these guys wanted it, especially the seniors,” Rotert said. “I really didn’t want to let any of them down. It’s pretty big to be going back.”

WEST FARGO (12-10): Heisler 7 6-7 20, Young 5 4-6 18, Rotert 4 2-2 14, Johnson 3 1-1 7, Schock 3 0-0 6, Uetz 1 0-0 3, Hogenson 1 0-0 2. Totals 24-50 13-16 70.

CENTRAL (9-14): Norton 10 3-4 24, Olson 6 2-2 15, Gause 4 0-0 10, McWilliams 2 0-0 4, Hale 1 0-0 3, Hape 1 0-0 2, Moe 1 0-0 2. Totals 25-50 5-6 60.

Halftime: GFC 35, WF 26. 3-pointers: Norton, Olson, Gause 2, Hale, Young 4, Rotert 4, Uetz. Total fouls: GFC 17, WF 12. Rebounds: GFC 17 (Olson 6), WF 28 (Young 6). Assists: GFC 5 (five with 1), WF 9 (Uetz 3). Turnovers: GFC 8, WF 7.

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