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Tom Mix, Published March 08 2012

Bontjes' 3-pointer sends Wahpeton to ND Class A state boys basketball semifinals

FARGO – Wahpeton’s Jeremy Bontjes has made a habit of hitting buzzer beaters the last three weeks.

His latest came Thursday when the 5-foot-9 senior drained a 3-pointer as time expired in the Huskies’ 66-64 quarterfinals win over Bismarck at the Class A boys basketball tournament at the Fargodome.

Bontjes, who hit the game-winning shot in the Huskies’ state-qualifying game last Saturday, dribbled the ball looking to drive, but stopped and knocked down the leaner at the top of the key.

The shot gave Wahpeton, which trailed by 16 with 11 minutes to play, its first lead of the game and prompted Huskies fans to storm the court.

“We knew if we got some defensive stops and got down on the offensive end and made shots there we’d have a good chance to come back,” said Bontjes amidst a sea of purple and gold.

The win is the first opening-round victory for Wahpeton since 1979 when the team last won the Class A championship.

“The ball was in the right guy’s hands,” Wahpeton head coach Jeff Ralph said. “… Jeremy hit two floaters in the lane and got that big 3 at the end. He’s the guy who’s going to make that shot … and boy was that one a tough shot.”

Bismarck had defeated Wahpeton in the opening round each of the last six tournament appearances for the Huskies.

“We knew the streak coming in,” said Bontjes, who finished with a game-high 25 points. “We knew we wanted to break it and we knew we had the team to do it. We just battled back and hit a shot at the end.”

Wahpeton (17-6) advances to play Fargo Shanley in the semifinals at 6:30 p.m. today.

The Demons (19-4) led 35-30 at halftime and opened the second half on a 12-2 run. The Bismarck run was comprised of four 3-pointers, two coming from Tyler Unruh.

Bismarck’s lead ballooned to 52-36, but Wahpeton wouldn’t go away.

“We knew they were getting tired and if we outran them down the floor, we could get some shots,” Wahpeton senior Zayne Medhaug said.

Wahpeton’s Brandon Wetzel hit a 3-pointer with 3:40 left in regulation that cut the Demons’ lead to 60-56.

Mr. Basketball finalist Dexter Werner answered with a field goal, but after that Bontjes took control of the game. Bontjes scored Wahpeton’s final 10 points.

Unruh and Devin Schirado each scored 16 points to pace Bismarck.

“Bontjes made a lot of plays tonight,” Bismarck head coach Steve Miller said. “He’s been doing it all season, so it wasn’t really a big surprise. He got to the basket on us and hit shots. He played great tonight.”

Werner finished with 14 points and 25 rebounds for the Demons. Bismarck plays Minot in the consolation semifinals at 4 p.m. today at the Bison Sports Arena.

Blaze Irwin added 11 points for the Huskies.

BISMARCK (19-4): Unruh 6 0-0 16, Schirado 6 0-2 16, Werner 6 2-2 14, Schafer 2 2-2 7, Fitterer 2 0-0 5, Clairmont 2 0-0 4, Jolliffe 1 0-0 2. Totals 25-67 4-6 64.

WAHPETON (17-6): Bontjes 10 4-5 25, Irwin 4 1-1 11, Wetzel 3 0-0 9, Medhaug 4 0-2 8, Miller 2 0-0 6. Pratt 2 0-0 5, Christensen 0-6 2-3 2. Totals 25-60 7-11 66.

Halftime: B 35, W 30

3-pointers: Unruh 4, Schirado 4, Schafer, Fitterer, Bontjes Irwin 2, Wetzel 3, Miller 2, Pratt. Total fouls: B 12, W 12. Rebounds: B 54 (Werner 25), W 37 (Medhaug, Miller, Christensen 6). Assists: B 11 (Werner, Schirado 4), W, 7 (Bontjes 3). Turnovers: B 6, W 6.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562