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Eric Peterson, Published March 08 2012

Packers survive scare against Minot at ND Class A state girls basketball

FARGO – When the game got tense in the closing minutes Thursday, Erin Krogh never lost faith.

“I just knew that someone would step up on our team and make the big shot,” said the West Fargo senior.

Cassidy Thorson scored the go-ahead layup with a shade over two minutes remaining to help the No. 1-ranked Packers hold off Minot for a 60-55 victory in the first round of the North Dakota Class A state girls basketball tournament at the Bison Sports Arena.

“We played so hard the second half,” said Minot head coach Todd Magnuson. “We played a great game the second half. It would have been nice to play like that the first half.”

The Packers (22-1) are on a 17-game winning streak heading into today’s semifinals against the Bismarck-Grand Forks Central winner at the Fargodome.

West Fargo never trailed in the second half, but the Packers never pushed their lead past five points in the final eight minutes. Minot tied the score 54-54 after senior Jayd Eggert scored off a cut to the basket with 2 minutes, 15 seconds remaining.

“We couldn’t get over the hump,” Magnuson said. “We would get a tie, we’d get a stop. We just couldn’t get that extra bucket. I think if we would have got that extra bucket to go ahead, I think our momentum would have changed huge.”

Thorson quickly pushed the Packers back into the lead after Eggert’s tying score. The sophomore guard scored on a drive to the basket that gave West Fargo a 56-54 edge with 2:05 to play. The Packers never trailed from that point.

Krogh sank two free throws for a 58-54 lead with 32 seconds remaining. Thorson added two foul shots that staked the Packers to a 60-55 lead with 12 seconds on the clock.

“We played good defense and hit our shots when we needed to,” said West Fargo guard junior Lexi Lennon, who had a team-high 21 points. “We don’t put our heads down if we make a bad play. We just move on to the next play and keep working hard.”

The Packers limited Minot senior forward Holly Johnson to seven points on 2-for-12 shooting from the floor. Johnson, who has signed to play at North Dakota State, led Minot with 17.5 points per game entering the state tournament.

Eggert picked up that scoring slack to keep Minot close. The 5-foot-11 center scored a game-high 24 points on 8-for-12 shooting from the field. Eggert was averaging 9.8 points per game entering Thursday.

“Jayd Eggert picked us up,” Magnuson said. “She was on a mission tonight. She wanted the ball.”

MINOT (16-7): Eggert 8 8-8 24, Hankla 4 0-1 8, Johnson 2 2-6 7, S. Duttenhefer 0 6-8 6, Milbrath 2 0-0 4, Bryantt 1 0-1 3, M. Duttenhefer 1 0-0 3, Bahl 0 0-0 0. Totals 18-45 16-24 55.

WEST FARGO (22-1): Lennon 7 3-4 21, E. Krogh 4 0-1 8, Thorson 3 4-4 10, Hummel 1 2-4 4, Levin 1 1-2 3, Baltezore 1 1-1 3, A. Krogh 0 1-2 1, Gooding 0 1-2 1, Miller 0 0-0 0. Totals 19-53 17-23 60.

Half: WF 29, Minot 21. 3-point goals: Johnson, Bryantt, M. Duttenhefer, Lennon 4, E. Krogh. Total fouls: Minot 18, WF 21. Rebounds: Minot 24 (Johnson 10), WF 28 (Levin 6). Assists: Minot 10 (four players with 2), WF 9 (Baltezore 4). Turnovers: Minot 20, WF 16.

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

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

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