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Tom Mix, Published February 28 2013

Milnor ends state drought with Region 1 title

WAHPETON, N.D. – Nine years is the amount of time Milnor has gone without a berth in the North Dakota Class B boys basketball tournament.

On Thursday, the long wait came to an end for the Bison.

Milnor defeated No. 6-ranked Fargo Oak Grove 73-70 in the Region 1 championship game at Ed Werre Arena.

“It is the best feeling ever,” Milnor’s lone senior Landon Mund said. “This is what we have been working for since we were in grade school. It feels so good to finally say I can go to the state tournament.”

The Bison (19-6) advance to the state tournament and will play the winner of the Region 5 in the quarterfinals at 2:45 p.m. March 7 at the Minot State Dome. The Region 5 championship between Garrison and Shiloh Christian is today at the Bismarck Civic Center.

Milnor will be making its fourth state appearance. Its last was in 2004, when the Bison fell to Dickinson Trinity in the state title game.

“Back in 2004, we all watched Milnor go to state, and we have all been dreaming about going since then,” Milnor junior Briton Bussman said.

Bussman led all scorers, pouring in 27 points, including a free throw with 20.5 seconds left giving the Bison a 73-70 lead.

The Grovers (22-3) grabbed the rebound of Bussman’s second free throw that rimmed out and drew up a play for the tie, but senior Tyler Christianson’s 3-point attempt was off the mark.

Seconds later, Bison fans stormed the court.

“Our guys played hard, and the most important thing was they played smart,” Milnor head coach Benjamin Nelson said. “We moved the ball like we have done all year and got some easy layups. … It is coming together at the right time.”

Milnor is the first District 1 team to win the Region 1 championship since North Sargent in 2009. The Bison have qualified for the region tournament each of the last four years under Nelson, but this year marked the first year they made it past the quarterfinals.

“It was nice to get over that hump, and now we got a whole new set of goals,” said Nelson, who was named Region 1 coach of the year.

Junior Wyatt Mund added 23 points and 13 rebounds for the Bison, who fell to the Grovers 87-63 in the first game of the regular season on Dec. 1.

Wyatt Mund drove hard into the paint for a slam dunk with 1:48 left to play to give Milnor a 72-69 lead.

“We knew they had numbers, and we had to be ready to go,” Wyatt Mund said. “At the beginning of the year, we were not in good enough shape to compete with them, but we conditioned hard. We just had to come out and play our best, and that is what we did.”

Oak Grove led 41-36 at halftime, but Milnor went on a 16-2 run in the third quarter to take the lead. Oak Grove never led in the fourth quarter.

Christianson paced Oak Grove with 21 points.

“(Milnor) had a game plan and went out and executed it,” Oak Grove head coach Kyle Card said. “They wanted it. The ball wasn’t falling for us.”

M 21 36 59 73

OG 16 41 55 70

MILNOR (19-6): Knutson 2 0-0 4, B. Bussman 9 8-12 27, Martinson 2 0-0 4, L. Mund 3 4-4 11, Yagow 2 0-2 4, W. Mund 9 5-5 23. Totals: 27 17-23 73

OAK GROVE (22-3): Kretchman 2 1-2 7, Berg 1 1-2 4, Widmer 1 1-2 3, Funfar 5 2-2 14, Adams 7 2-2 17, Christianson 8 3-4 21. Conant 1 0-0 2. Totals: 26 10-14 70

Halftime: OG 41, M 36. 3-pointers: B. Bussman, L. Mund, Kretchman 2, Berg, Funfar 2, Adams, Christianson 2. Total fouls: M 14, OG 20. Fouled out: Martinson. Rebounds: M 34 (W. Mund 13), OG 18 (Adams 4). Turnovers: M 5, OG 4. Assists: M 12 (W. Mund 6), OG 4 (Dangerfield 2). Steals: M 0, OG 3 (three with 1).

Third-place game

MV 22 38 55 70

CC 18 35 50 55

MAPLE VALLEY (19-5): Preston 1 0-0 2, C. Richman 1 2-4 4, Sours 3 1-2 7, McDough 1 0-0 2, Behm 7 0-0 14, Haseleu 8 4-5 23. J. Richman 8 2-2 18. Totals: 29 9-13 70

CENTRAL CASS (17-8): E. Bresnahan 11 4-4 29, Ebach 5 0-0 11, Breske 2 0-0 5, Voss 2 0-2 5, Radermacher 1 0-0 2, Ausk 0 1-2 1, Rieniets 1 0-0 2. Totals: 22 5-8 55

Halftime: MV 38, CC 35. 3-pointers: Haseleu 3, E. Bresnahan 3, Ebach, Breske, Voss. Total fouls: MV 7, CC 10. Rebounds: MV 36 (J. Richman 9), CC 30 (Ausk, E. Bresnahan 4). Turnovers: MV 7, CC 12. Assists: MV 17 (Behm 6), CC 11 (E. Bresnahan 4). Steals: MV 5 (Behm 2), CC 6 (Ebach 2).

Awards

Region 1 coach of the year: Benjamin Nelson, Milnor

Region 1 senior athlete of the year: Jordan Haseleu, Maple Valley


Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562