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Greg DeVillers / Forum News Service, Published March 09 2013

Milnor wins ND Class B state boys basketball title

MINOT, N.D. – Not once did Milnor show up in the top 10 of North Dakota’s weekly Class B boys basketball poll. The Bison never got a single vote in the 11 weeks the poll ran.

On Saturday, the Bison got something better than votes. They got a state championship.

Milnor slowed down the high-scoring Four Winds-Minnewaukan offense and claimed a 67-60 win in the title game of the North Dakota Class B boys basketball tournament.

“Polls don’t mean anything,” said Milnor coach Ben Nelson, who started only one senior on his team. “We started out slow. We came together at the right time.

“I’m afraid we aren’t going to sneak up on teams next year.”

Said tournament MVP Briton Bussman: “We don’t pay attention to polls. This is better.”

Bussman poured in a game-high 28 points and consistently hit key baskets.

Milnor, ahead 31-25 at halftime, opened up the game’s first double-digit lead when it went on an 8-0 run to go ahead 41-29 with 5 minutes, 32 seconds left in the third quarter. Bussman got the spurt going on a four-point play, hitting a 3-pointer from the right wing, getting fouled and hitting a free throw. Senior Landon Mund followed with two close-range baskets.

Milnor stretched its lead to 47-33 before Four WInds-Minnewaukan closed the third on a 10-1 run to pull within 48-43.

“We knew they were good shooters, that eventually they’d start to hit some,” Nelson said.

Four Winds did struggle from the field, shooting 33.8 percent (23 of 68).

“I think we missed our first five shots,” FW-M coach Rick Smith said of the early trend. “We battled, but we just couldn’t get the ball to go in the hole.

“They limited us to one shot toward the end. I thought we rushed things on offense. We gave them way too many easy transition baskets throughout the game.”

Four Winds-Minnewaukan cut the Milnor lead to 53-50 when Austin Longie hit a 3 from the right wing with 4:47 left.

But Milnor answered with a 9-2 run. Bussman hit a 3 from the right wing to build the lead back to six and wound up with six of the nine points in the spurt.

“I don’t mind taking the big shots,” Mussman said. “I’m confident in myself.”

Milnor led by six or more the rest of the way.

Milnor also did a good job of handling the Indians’ pressure defense, committing 19 turnovers.

“Their perimeter defense is really good,” Nelson said. “We did a good job of minimizing turnovers. We didn’t try to force anything. It was good, fundamental basketball.”

Landon Mund added 13 points for Milnor, which finished 22-6 after starting the season with three losses in its first five games. Wyatt Mund added 12 points and 17 rebounds.

Longie had 24 points, Hadley Smith 12 and Collin Delorme scored 11 while grabbing 12 boards for Four Winds-Minnewaukan, which finished 24-3.

DeVillers writes for the Grand Forks Herald