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Chris Murphy, Published March 06 2013

Spuds seniors get one last home victory

MOORHEAD – The seniors of Moorhead’s boys basketball team got what they wanted. They got a final farewell and went out in style, knocking off No. 6-seeded Rogers in the Minnesota Class 4A, Section 8 quarterfinals 72-66 in their final home game.

“It’s the best feeling ever,” Moorhead post Austin Nelson said. “Knowing you’re leaving that gym with a ‘W’ is the coolest feeling in the world.”

Whether Moorhead (17-8) would get another home game was unknown after the Spuds fell to Marshall 70-59 on Feb. 23 in what could have been their final home game. In March, second chances don’t come often.

“Any time you can continue on in this journey, it’s a great thing,” Moorhead coach Corey Zimmerman said. “Myself and the other coaches do not want this journey to end for those seniors. We want to try to keep them on it as far as we can because once it’s done, it’s done. You don’t realize what that last game with those seniors is and, for them, the further you can go, the better it’s going to be.”

The first half belonged to Nelson, who scored 15 of his 22 points and hauled in four of his nine rebounds during the frame. Despite Nelson’s hot shooting, Rogers went into the break with a 33-31 lead.

“It was a quick start with a lot of shots going up,” Nelson said. “They came out with one guy on Aaron (Lien) and the rest in zone, and it kind of stumped us for a little bit. We didn’t know how to attack it.”

In the second half, Lien attacked.

The senior was happy to have another chance for his last game at Moorhead, but he wasn’t ready to make it his last high school game ever. Lien scored 19 of his game-high 30 points in the second half, including a dunk and two free throws to give Moorhead a 70-64 lead with less than 30 seconds in the game.

After a jumper by Cullen Loughlin for Rogers (10-17) made it a 70-66 game with 26.5 seconds left, Moorhead’s Cody Dorow hit two free throws for two of his 12 points to put the game on ice.

“Having a home game definitely gives us the advantage,” said Lien, who also had 11 rebounds. “We just went out and got a win. We kind of took their biggest shot right away in the first half, but we weathered that storm.”

Moorhead will take on No. 2-seeded Elk River (19-8) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Cloud State University for a spot in the section championship.

“We got to play better defense,” Zimmerman said. “They made some shots and that’s what happens in tournament time. You don’t know what’s going to happen and that’s what makes it so exciting. It’s the greatest time of the year for me.”

M (17-8): Dobbins 1 0-0 3, Dorow 4 4-5 12, Lien 9 11-14 30, Nelson 9 0-0 22, Lawrence 1 1-2 3, Wiesmann 2-4, 2.

R (10-17): Loughlin 7 3-4 19, Gelle 4 0-0 10, Spilles 4 2-2 10, Murray 7 3-5 17, Thompson 3 0-0 7, Olson 1 0-0 2.

Half: R 33, M 31. 3-point goals: Nelson 4, Dobbins 1, Lien 1, Gelle 2, Thompson 1. Total fouls: M 9, R 19. Rebounds: M 39 (Lien 11), R 34 (Loughlin 9, Gelle 8). Turnovers: M 7, R 11.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548