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Chris Murphy, Published December 06 2013

Buffalo boys basketball wins a thriller over Moorhead 82-80

MOORHEAD – Buffalo’s Sam Ortmann sank two free throws with 3.9 seconds remaining and Moorhead’s Shane Steckler’s 3-point attempt hit the back of the iron at the buzzer to give the Bison an 82-80 win over Moorhead.

Friday’s home opener will go down as a loss for the Spuds, their third straight to open the season, but they also feel it’s a stepping stone for a team with just four seniors.

“It was rough, but it was nice to see guys step up,” said Moorhead guard Cody Dorow, who finished with 31 points. “It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish. We run to the roar. We’re fearless.”

Dorow and his 31 points took a seat on the bench with 1 minute, 19 seconds remaining in the game and Moorhead trailing by six points. Dorow was the third starter to foul out, and that could have been the final nail in the Spuds’ coffin. Brett Lawrence, a 6-foot-6 forward, fouled out with 7:23 to go and Nick Wiesmann, a 6-foot-7 center, fouled out with 5:20 remaining.

The Spuds had lost their height and their scoring, but they stayed alive.

With 57.3 seconds in the game, Buffalo missed two free throws and Steckler buried a 3-pointer. The Bison answered with two free throws and Steckler answered by burying another 3-pointer, this time while getting fouled with 22.4 seconds left. He hit the free throw, the Bison hit two free throws and Matt Bye came back and sank a 3-pointer to tie it with less than 5 seconds to go.

Then, the youth of Moorhead showed as the Spuds fouled intentionally, not realizing the game was tied. Ortmann hit the final six free throws of the game for the Bison (1-2), none of which were bigger than those final two.

“We’ve been preaching our depth this year,” Moorhead coach Corey Zimmerman said. “Our bench guys could be starters. We’re trying to build an attitude that it ain’t over until that buzzer sounds. Our guys are still learning.”

There’s a lot of history between Buffalo and Moorhead. Coming into the game, dating back to 2004, the Spuds had won five of the nine matchups with the scores totaling 535-533 in favor of the Spuds. The two teams know each other like family because some of them are.

Zimmerman was a junior on the Moorhead basketball team when Buffalo coach Nick Guida was a senior on the Spuds team. Spuds assistant coach Darrin Olmsheid played with a Bison assistant coach and his younger brother, Collin, put up 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Bison on Friday.

“Seeing him on the other bench makes it weird, but it’s just that much more fun at the same time,” Collin said. “Next time I see him, I can for sure rub this in his face a little bit.”

The familiarity between the two teams showed Friday, as the biggest lead of the game was eight points. It’s the type of game Zimmerman is hoping prepares the Spuds for the bigger stage when the weather outside may be above 0 degrees.

“Every time we go against each other, it’s a battle,” Zimmerman said. “Those are the games you want to be a part of. That’s where kids get an opportunity to make plays and tonight we saw it. We’re still learning. Hopefully, we’re playing our best basketball in March.”

B (1-2): Sonju 2 0-0 5, Ortmann 5 9-10 22, Bean 2 10-12 14, Olmscheid 3 8-8 14, Dahl 2 3-6 8, Thielman 1 0-1 2, Senger 5 0-1 11, High 2 1-2 6. Totals 22 30-38 82.

M (0-3): Steckler 6 4-4 21, Eidsness 1 1-1 3, Dorow 12 7-9 31, Lawrence 2 0-1 5, Wiesmann 1 0-0 2, Stich 3 0-1 8, Bye 2 2-2 7, Tonsfeldt 1 1-2 3. Totals 28 14-19 80.

Halftime: B 31, M 29. 3-pointers: Steckler 5, Stich 2, Lawrence 1, Bye 1, Ortmann 2, Dahl 1, Sonju 1, Senger 1, High 1. Total fouls: M 29, B 18. Rebounds: M 28 (Dorow 8), B 39 (Olmscheid 12).

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