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Greg DeVillers / Forum News Service, Published January 29 2013

Top-ranked Roughriders escape with boys basketball win against No. 2 Shanley

GRAND FORKS – Blake Kemnitz was in the right place at the right time twice.

The senior guard had two interceptions in the final minute Tuesday night. Grand Forks Red River converted them into five points, including the game-winning basket by Mac Kroeplin as the Roughriders beat Fargo Shanley 77-75.

The game was a rematch of last season’s North Dakota Class A state boys basketball championship game, won by Red River. It also matched the two top-ranked teams in the state. No. 1 Red River improved to 10-0. Shanley, which had a 20-point lead early in the second half, dropped to 8-2.

“You have to be more aggressive in that situation,” Kemnitz said of his late interceptions. “If not, they’ll sit on the ball and not let us have it. On the first one, I dropped down and they threw it right at me. On the second, they lobbed the pass and I had time to get to it.

“I went for a reverse (layup). It didn’t fall, but Mac bailed me out.”

Shanley had taken a 74-69 lead with 1 minute, 2 seconds left on a Connor Dunn layup.

Kroeplin got Red River within four on a free throw. Then Kemnitz’s first interception, in a halfcourt defense, led to a Matt Anderson 3-pointer from the right wing with 26 seconds left.

A Patrick Strom free throw made the game 75-73 with 22 seconds left.

But John Hoplin’s layup off a Kroeplin pass tied the game 75-75 with nine seconds left.

On Shanley’s ensuing inbounds pass, Kemnitz caught the lob just inside the halfcourt line. He drove and missed. Kroeplin rebounded, missed, and then made a tip-in just before time expired.

“I thought Blake was going to drop a pass off to me,” said Kroeplin, whose game-high 28 points included the 1,000th of his career. “When I missed the first putback, I put it back up quickly. I knew time was running out.”

Said Red River coach Jason Gregory: “We went to a little more pressure at the end, trying to cause some chaos. We had four guys trying to deny the ball. Blake made great plays.”

Shanley had come out strong. The Deacons, sparked by a 15-0 run in which they held Red River scoreless for 5:32, jumped to a 42-28 halftime lead. Strom had 20 of his team-leading 26 points in the first half.

“We came out shooting well,” Shanley coach Shane Alderman said. “We’ve shot well all year. That’s been a strength. Strom can put up points as quick as anybody around.”

Ben Glogoza had four points to spark a 6-0 run to start the second half and put the Deacons up 48-28. Red River answered with a 13-3 run to get back within 10. The Riders whittled away, taking their first lead on Kroeplin’s game-winning shot. Kroeplin sparked the comeback with 19 second-half points.

“Mac’s got an I-want-the-ball mentality when we really need points,” Gregory said.

A.J. Jacobson and Glogoza each had a double-double for Shanley. Jacobson had 23 points and 10 rebounds, while Glogoza had 17 points and 12 rebounds.

Chad Bartosh and Hoplin each had 14 points and Kemnitz 10. Hoplin and Kroeplin each had 10 rebounds.

Half: GFRR 49, FS 42

FS: Strom 26, Jacobson 23, Glogoza 17, Alderman 7, Dunn 2.

GFRR: Dufault 2, Bartosh 14, Kemnitz 10, Anderson 6, Kroeplin 28, Hoplin 14, Robson 3.


DeVillers writes for the Grand Forks Herald