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Chris Murphy, Published January 31 2013

Nickel leads Park Christian past Ada-Borup

MOORHEAD – There’s not much fear in Moorhead Park Christian’s Hunter Nickel.

On the ensuing possession after his legs were taken out from under him going up for a dunk that would have left the crowd at Park Christian up for grabs, Nickel found himself alone on the break again. There was no question what he was going for.

“I really wanted to dunk against Ada,” Nickel said. “I was going for it.”

Nickel skied toward the rim and was fouled before he could slam it home, but not before laying the ball into the basket to give his Falcons a 61-48 lead and momentum en route to a

77-71 win over Ada-Borup Thursday in Minnesota boys basketball.

The play was his, the night was his and anything near the basket was his, as Nickel finished with 19 points, 14 rebounds and nine blocks. There was one thing that wasn’t Nickel’s that he’s planning on getting some day.

“I’m still going after my dad’s record of 26 rebounds in a game, and I was on my way, but I couldn’t quite get there,” Nickel said. “We came really prepared to play these guys. They run two plays and we studied them and beat them.”

Park Christian (13-4) certainly passed the test, opening the game on a 20-9 run and never trailing. The Falcons took a 40-28 lead into the half behind 12 of Zach Kvalvog’s career-high 19 points during the frame.

“It was very physical out there, but we battled and fought and we finally started hitting shots,” Kvalvog said. “They had a bit of a run at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half, but our coach called a timeout, told us to relax and we just knew we had to hit shots. This was a great win for us.”

A 6-0 run for Ada-Borup (12-3) to open the second half made it a 40-34 Park Christian lead. That’s when Nickel took over. The junior big man went on his own

10-4 run. The Cougars got within six at 71-65 with 51.7 seconds left, but Matt Moberg scored two of his team-high 20 points on a layup and Kvalvog hit all four of his free-throw attempts to seal it.

“We’re just coming to the place where we’re executing the little things to be successful,” Park Christian coach Gary Walton said. “We knew at halftime they were going to make a run. We knew we had to stand up and be tough and execute. We talk a lot about when the pressure starts happening it has to be about we and not I and I thought the kids did that.”

Blake Fetting had 20 points and Joel Merkens had 24 points and 19 rebounds, but it was not enough, as Ada-Borup saw its seven-game winning streak come to an end.

“We didn’t play very well,” Ada-Borup coach Trevor Stewart said. “We kept battling, but we didn’t play well right away.”

P (13-4): Hannestad 3 0-0 9, Moberg 9 0-0 20, Nickel 6 7-12 19, Kvalvog 4 8-10 18, Tompkins 2 3-5 7, Hanson 1 0-0 2, Olsgaard 1 0-0 2.

A (12-3): Ruebke 5 1-2 12, Kappes 2 2-2 7, Fetting 6 5-9 20, Merkens 9 6-9 24, Peterson 1 0-0 2, M. Ruebke 0 2-2 2, Brainard 1 0-0 2, Hoven 1 0-0 2.

Half: P 40, A 28. 3-point goals: Hannestad 3, Moberg 2, Kvalvog 2, Ruebke 1, Fetting 3 Kappes 1. Total fouls: P 21, A 19. Rebounds: P 24 (Nickel 14), A 29 (Merkens 19). Turnovers: P 22, A 15.

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Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548