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Eric Peterson, Published March 10 2012

Late free throws lift Mandan boys to third-place win over Wahpeton

FARGO – Mandan senior Jacob Watson said he had never scored a game-winning basket his “whole life.”

That trend ended Saturday at the Fargodome.

Watson sank a foul shot with no time left on the game clock to lift the Braves to a 52-51 victory against Wahpeton for third place at the North Dakota Class A state boys basketball tournament.

“It was a good way to go out with my senior season with a win, so I wanted to make that,” said Watson, who finished with 10 points.

Wahpeton (17-8) finished with its highest state tournament finish since 1979 when it won a state championship.

“I think it means a lot,” Wahpeton head coach Jeff Ralph said. “The standard is set a little higher now and we need to keep working on that. It’s going to be hard to do, but I think we have the kids right now where we can do that.”

Mandan held for the final shot with the score tied at 51-51 in the closing seconds. Braves senior guard Devin Coyle missed a 15-foot jumper from the right wing. The 6-foot-2 Watson snared the rebound off a scramble and went up for a shot underneath the basket.

“I didn’t really know what to think,” Watson said. “I just put the shot up as soon as I got it.”

The Huskies were whistled for a foul right before the final horn sounded. Watson missed the first of two free throws. He drained the second one, however, giving his team the victory.

“I thought we didn’t rebound well enough and then that got us. That was another offensive rebound,” said Ralph, whose team allowed 14 offensive rebounds. “It’s a tough way to lose a game. … He got fouled so they are going to go to the foul line and make the free throws.”

Wahpeton senior Jeremy Bontjes had a big second half, scoring all his team-high 15 points after halftime. The 5-foot-9 guard scored a driving layup that tied the score at 51-51 with 30 seconds remaining.

Bontjes finished his career with 1,018 points.

“What can you say about him? I wish I had a million of him,” Ralph said. “I wish he was a freshman so I could have him for a few more years.”

MANDAN (19-6): Coyle 4 1-2 12, Collins 4 1-1 11, Watson 4 2-5 10, Janz 3 3-4 9, Marcellais 2 0-0 4, Fitzsimmons 1 1-2 3, Kautzmann 1 0-0 2, Westby 0 1-2 1, Baesler 0 0-0 0, Berger 0 0-0 0, Schmidt 0 0-0 0, Olson 0 0-0 0. Totals 19-52 9-16 52.

WAHPETON (17-8): Bontjes 5 2-2 15, Miller 5 0-0 12, Christensen 1 9-1 11, Medhaug 3 1-3 7, Irwin 2 2-2 6, Ralph 0 0-0 0, Wetzel 0 0-0 0, Pratt 0 0-0 0, Kath 0 0-0 0, Holkup 0 0-0 0. Totals 16-48 14-17 51.

Half: WHS 22, MHS 21. 3-point goals: Coyle 3, Collins 2, Bontjes 3, Miller 2. Total fouls: MHS 17, WHS 17. Rebounds: MHS 37 (Janz 11), WHS 27 (Bontjes 7, Christensen 7). Assists: MHS 9 (three players with 2), WHS 7 (Christensen 2, Medhaug 2). Turnovers: MHS 16, WHS 12.

Fifth place: Bismarck 83, Bismarck St. Mary’s 78

Dexter Werner scored 32 points and grabbed nine rebounds to help Bismarck earn an 83-78 victory against Bismarck St. Mary’s for fifth place.

A 6-foot-6 senior, Werner made 11 of 28 shots from the field and also blocked five shots. Werner has signed to play basketball at North Dakota State.

Sophomore Ben Weisbeck paced the Saints with 32 points and 15 rebounds.

ST. MARY’S (15-10): Weisbeck 9 12-14 31, Neff 6 3-4 15, Bohan 5 1-1 12, Nagel 2 4-4 8, Sparks 3 1-1 7, Tescher 2 0-0 5, Brad Obritsch 0 0-0 0, Schreiner 0 0-0 0, Brian Obritsch 0 0-0 0, Kopp 0 0-0 0. Totals 27-65 21-24 78.

BISMARCK (21-4): Werner 11 10-18 32, Schirado 9 1-2 22, Clairmont 3 3-4 11, Schafer 2 2-2 8, Fitterer 2 2-4 7, Seibel 0 3-4 3, Unruh 0 0-0 0, Jolliffe 0 0-0 0. Totals 27-67 21-34 83.

Half: BHS 34, SM 32. Regulation: BHS 72, SM 72. 3-point goals: Weisbeck, Bohan, Tescher, Schirado 3, Clairmont 2, Schafer 2, Fitterer. Total fouls: SM 25, BHS 22. Fouled out: Weisbeck, Nagel, Tescher, Brad Obritsch. Technical foul: Clairmont. Rebounds: SM 39 (Weisbeck 15), BHS 29 (Werner 9). Assists: SM 10 (Tescher 4), BHS 10 (Schirado 3). Turnovers: SM 14, BHS 6.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com