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Greg DeVillers / Forum News Service, Published March 14 2013

Slow start dooms West Fargo at ND Class A state boys basketball tournament

BISMARCK – West Fargo hasn’t gone through many long stretches of shooting struggles like it did Thursday. The Packers were just 4 of 21 in the first half in the opening game of the North Dakota Class A boys basketball tournament.

“I think our defense had a little bit to do with it,” Bismarck coach Steve Miller said.

The Demons’ stifling defense got Bismarck off to a fast start. Then Bismarck held off a West Fargo second-half rally to claim a 57-42 win and advance into today’s 6:30 p.m. semifinal game against Bismarck Century.

West Fargo shot only 21 percent from the field in the first half.

“You don’t see that too often,” Packers coach Greg Limke said. “We’ve had times where we haven’t shot well. Obviously, this was awful. But we needed to do a better job on the other end to keep it close.

“We’ve been an average shooting team. That hasn’t been the key to our success. It’s been defense. But their defense was tough.”

Bismarck led 29-13 at halftime, then scored seven unanswered points to start the second half and go up 36-13.

The Packers’ defense sparked a 22-4 run. A Hogenson tip-in with just over five minutes remaining pulled the Packers within 40-35. Fifteen of the 22 points in the run came off Demons turnovers.

“We played more aggressively,” Limke said. “We attacked the basket better and created some turnovers. We still had gas in the tank. But Bismarck just made some plays (after West Fargo closed within 5). Give them credit.”

The biggest play was a

3-pointer from the right wing by Troy Hausauer, giving the Demons a 51-38 lead with 2:43 remaining.

BISMARCK: Unruh 6 0-0 13, Schafer 7 4-4 23, Seibel 0 1-4 1, Jolliffe 1 0-0 2, Werner 0 3-4 3, Hausauer 5 2-2 13, Clairmont 0 2-2 2. Totals: 19-45 12-16.

WF: Heisler 2 3-6 7, Mattila 2 0-0 4, Schock 0 3-4 3, Rotert 4 5-7 13, Wolden 2 0-0 5, Hogenson 2 2-2 6, Hogenson 1 0-0 2, Johnson 0 2-2 2. Totals: 13-51, 15-22.

Half: Bismarck 29, West Fargo 13. Total fouls: Bismarck 17, West Fargo 20. Rebounds: Bismarck 39 (Hausauer 9), West Fargo 31 (Heisler 7). Assists: Bismarck 6 (Joliffe 3), West Fargo 1 (Huber 1). 3-point goals: Bismarck 7 (Schafer 5, Unruh 1, Hausauer 1), West Fargo 1 (Wolden 1).

Greg DeVillers is a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald