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Tom Mix, Published February 26 2013

Oak Grove edges Maple Valley in Region 1 boys semifinals

WAHPETON, N.D. – The first two days of the North Dakota Class B, Region 1 boys basketball tournament have been anything but a walk in the park for Fargo Oak Grove.

But through it all, the Grovers are still standing.

Just a day removed from a tight quarterfinals win over Sargent Central, Oak Grove escaped with a 69-66 win over Maple Valley in the semifinals on Tuesday at Ed Werre Arena.

“We are happy to be moving on,” Oak Grove head coach Kyle Card said. “We made some plays down the stretch and we are excited to be playing in the region championship.”

Oak Grove plays Milnor in the Region 1 championship 20 minutes following the 6 p.m. third-place game between Central Cass and Maple Valley. Oak Grove’s last Region 1 title came in 2011.

The Grovers (22-2) had all they could handle with the Raiders.

Maple Valley – which once trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half – cut the Grovers’ lead to 67-66 when senior point guard Jordan Haseleu connected for a 3-pointer with 1:06 left in regulation.

Haseleu led all scorers with 33 points and keyed the Raiders’ second-half comeback.

“That kid is just unbelievable,” Card said. “Not only is he a great player, but he is a classy kid. He is awesome.”

After Haseleu’s 3, Oak Grove senior Brad Conant got a runner in the lane to drop with 32 seconds left to play.

The play was made somewhat on the fly by Conant.

“I got the ball on the wing and usually that is my spot to shoot,” Conant said. “I hit a couple shots when we played Maple Valley earlier in the year so they closed in fast. I saw the lane all the way across and after that it just happened. There wasn’t much thought involved.”

Maple Valley called a timeout to set up a play for Haseleu. Oak Grove got a hand in front of Haseleu’s shot, which was off the mark. The Raiders’ fouled Jordan Funfar, who missed a one-and-one free throw attempt giving Maple Valley life with 11.5 seconds remaining.

The Raiders got two 3s off in that span, but neither found the bottom of the net.

“That sums up our basketball team,” Maple Valley head coach Jayson Kocka said. “We never give up. We got a group of kids that work hard and there is a reason we are 18-5. We found ways to score down the stretch and found ways to get some stops to give us a chance. … I’m proud of the way we competed.”

Fourteen of the Grovers’ 16 points in the fourth quarter were scored by seniors. On top of Conant’s drive, he also sunk a key 3-pointer with 3:22 left.

“The seniors stepped up,” Card said. “Brad hit two clutch shots in the fourth quarter. That is just a senior not wanting to lose. Those were just huge shots. … He finished it for us.”

MV 10 26 42 66

OG 14 38 53 69

MAPLE VALLEY (18-5): Preston 0 1-2 1, Sours 1 1-3 3, McDough 2 2-2 6, Behm 5 3-3 13, Haseleu 10 10-11 33, J. Richman 4 2-3 10. Totals: 22 19-24 66.

OAK GROVE (22-2): Kretchman 4 1-1 10, Berg 4 0-0 8, Dangerfield 1 0-0 2, Card 2 2-3 6, Widmer 7 3-4 20, Funfar 1 0-4 3, Christianson 5 2-2 12, Olson 1 0-0 3, Conant 2 0-0 5. Totals: 27 8-14 69.

Halftime: OG 38, MV 26. 3-pointers: Haseleu 3, Kretchman, Widmer 3, Funfar, Olson, Conant. Total fouls: MV 17, OG 23. Fouled out: Behm. Rebounds: MV 31 (J. Richman 14), OG 29 (Christianson 11). Turnovers: MV 11, OG 8. Assists: MV 4 (Haseleu 2), OG 11 (Berg 3). Steals: MV 0, OG 5 (Funfar 2).

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562