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Tom Mix, Published March 08 2013

West Fargo upsets No. 1 Red River for Class A state boys basketball berth

FARGO – There was nothing laidback about the West Fargo boys basketball team on Friday night.

West Fargo’s semifinal matchup with Grand Forks Red River was not an elimination game, but the Packers played as though their season hung in the balance.

The assertiveness and urgency displayed by West Fargo helped it to a 59-58 win over the top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Roughriders during the North Dakota Class A, East Region tournament on Friday at the Bison Sports Arena.

“We respect Red River so much,” West Fargo head coach Greg Limke said. “They deserve to be regarded highly in the state of North Dakota. We knew we had to have a special effort. It could not be ordinary. We had to be extraordinary tonight.”

The Packers (14-7) advance to play Fargo Davies in the championship game set for 8:15 p.m. today at the BSA. The victory also gives West Fargo a berth in the state tournament, which begins Thursday in Bismarck.

West Fargo had four players score in double figures, with senior guard Brady Rotert leading the way with 16 points, including two 3-pointers.

“We had that extra gear tonight,” Rotert said. “Red River is a very good team. They have gotten us in this tournament the past couple of years. We wanted to play them again. It was a whole team effort. Everyone did what they could.”

With the game tied 51-51 with 3 minutes, 16 seconds remaining in regulation, West Fargo executed a 6-0 run to pull away from Red River (19-2).

“They just played well,” Red River head coach Jason Gregory said. “I thought we had some decent-looking shots that didn’t go in tonight. West Fargo was aggressive. Give them all the credit.”

Red River’s only other loss this season was against Fargo Davies. The Roughriders will play Wahpeton in a state-qualifying game at 1:15 p.m. today at the BSA.

West Fargo’s last trip to the East Region title game came in 2010 when it defeated Fargo North 61-59 for the championship.

“We practiced really hard for this game, and it was a great win for us,” said senior forward Justin Heisler, who finished with 14 points and nine rebounds.

WEST FARGO (14-7): Rotert 6 2-3 16, Hogenson 5 5-7 15, Heisler 6 2-2 14, Schock 3 3-4 10, Johnson 1 0-0 2, Mattila 1 0-0 2. Totals: 22-57 12-16 59.

RED RIVER (19-2): Kroeplin 6 1-3 17, Bartosh 4 5-6 15, Kemnitz 4 2-2 11, Anderson 4 0-0 9, Hoplin 2 2-2 6. Totals: 20-54 10-13 58.

Halftime: WF 27, RR 26. 3-pointers: Kroeplin 4, Bartosh 2, Kemnitz, Anderson, Rotert 2, Schock. Total fouls: WF 14, RR 12. Rebounds: WF 21 (Heisler 9), RR 25 (Bartosh, Anderson 6). Assists: WF 13 (Heisler, Schock 3), RR 15 (Kemnitz 8). Steals: WF 11 (Mattila 3), RR 7 (Kemnitz 3). Turnovers: WF 10, RR 14.

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