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Chris Aarhus / Forum News Service, Published March 08 2013

Bussman leads Milnor to ND Class B state boys basketball title game

MINOT, N.D. – Only in his dreams did Briton Bussman see Milnor in the North Dakota Class B state boys basketball championship game.

The 6-foot-3 junior guard said he didn’t envision his team getting to that point with only one senior and four juniors. His coach, Ben Nelson, agreed.

“We’ve been underlooked all year,” Nelson said. “With only one senior on the team, you’ve got to think you’re going to be better next year, but you never know.”

The Bison held off LaMoure-Litchville-Marion 57-54 to advance to their third title game in school history. They went in 1966 and 2004, losing to Kenmare and Dickinson Trinity, respectively.

“We were dreaming about it,” Bussman said. “We didn’t really know. We started getting hot late with a big winning streak and played well toward tournament time. That’s what it’s all about.”

Milnor (21-6) plays at 8 tonight looking for its first state championship. The Loboes (22-3) will be in the third-place game at 6 p.m.

Bussman paved the way, pouring in a game-high 31 points on 10 of 16 shooting. He was also 11 of 12 from the free-throw line. Wyatt Mund, fresh off a 32-point, 16-rebound performance on Thursday, was held to seven points, but had 13 rebounds.

“The best thing about those players is they don’t force anything,” Nelson said. “They understand the game of basketball. When Briton was bottled up (Thursday), Wyatt stepped up. When Wyatt was bottled up, Briton stepped up.”

The game was close throughout, but it was Bussman’s conversion on a 3-point play with 1 minute, 5 seconds remaining that proved to be the game-winner. L-L-M received a free throw from Brady Thielges and one from Mund the rest of the way, but Jared Meiklejohn’s off-balance, last-second 3-pointer against three defenders at the top of the key was no good.

L-L-M was paced by Anthony Olson, a 5-foot-11 forward who finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Meiklejohn added 16.

“There’s no questioning the heart,” L-L-M coach Darren Thielges said of his team. “We’ve said it all through the season. If and when we get knocked out, it won’t be for a lack of heart, and that heart makes it so difficult in the locker room. It does matter to these guys.

“Yeah, this one stings a little bit.”

M 13 26 40 57

LLM 10 33 39 54

M: Bussman 31, Martinson 4, L. Mund 7, Yagow 4, W. Mund 7, Knutson 4.

LLM: Meiklejohn 16, Olson 23, B. Thielges 8, D. Thielges 7.

Aarhus writes for The Jamestown Sun