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Chris Murphy, Published December 09 2013

Park Christian boys basketball tops No. 7 Ada-Borup in overtime

MOORHEAD – Moorhead Park Christian point guard Zach Kvalvog has a strict routine at the free-throw line. He spins the ball once, dribbles it once and holds it up to his chin to line himself up with the rim.

On Monday, in regulation of a 68-61 win over Ada-Borup – the No. 7-ranked team in Minnesota Class 1A – Kvalvog left two free throws short that would have put the game on ice.

He wasn’t about to let that happen in overtime.

“I have a tendency to shoot with too much arm instead of wrist, so I bring it in tight, lock my chin with the rim, follow through and put it in,” Kvalog said. “I left both of them short in regulation. I knew it right when they left my hand. My teammates really bailed me out so I wasn’t the goat.”

Kvalvog had his chin lined up in overtime, sinking two free throws with 20.8 seconds left to put Park Christian up by three points, and then again with 8.2 seconds remaining to lock up the win over the rival Cougars.

Kvalvog finished with 21 points and five assists for the Falcons (3-1).

“This was a huge game,” Kvalvog said. “This is a great win for us. If we can keep this up, we can go a long way.”

It was only fitting that Hunter Nickel and Kvalvog scored all 10 points in overtime for Park Christian. Outside of Kvalvog’s big game, Nickel was everywhere, scoring 14 points, hauling in 11 rebounds and swatting 10 shots. The senior big man had been waiting for this game ever since Ada-Borup ended the Falcons’ season in the sub-section semifinals last year.

“I’ve wanted to go against these guys ever since they took us out last year,” Nickel said. “We came with a fire in our heart. We work hard for this. This is big for us, but we had a lot of mistakes tonight. We need to get sharper on those.”

Park Christian coach Erv Inniger had his first experience with the Ada-Borup and Park Christian rivalry Monday. Pretty much everything is new to the former North Dakota State men’s basketball coach, as he’s in his first year coaching a high school team.

“There’s something about this Ada rivalry,” Inniger said. “I usually have a fired-up speech. I didn’t have to say anything. They were very, very ready to go.”

Nickel closed the first half with an exclamation point, slamming home two points while getting fouled, and later sank the free throw to give Park Christian a 30-26 lead at the break.

After Kvalvog missed two free throws with 1:03 left to go in regulation and Park Christian leading 58-56, Lance Ruebke hit a layup to tie the game with 47 seconds to go.

A Falcons turnover gave Ada-Borup the ball and a chance at the final shot. Nickel came up with a steal – one of Ada-Borup’s 28 turnovers – and Kvalvog and Jared Olsgaard each missed shots to send it to overtime.

With less than a minute to go in overtime, Garret Gunderson came up with a steal and a layup for two of his 14 points to pull the Cougars (1-1) within one, but Kvalvog came up big at the free-throw line to seal it.

“We knew, second game of the year, it wasn’t going to be clean,” Ada-Borup coach Trevor Stewart said. “I thought our guys played hard and they battled. We got a long time to clean up those other things before it really, really matters.”

A (1-1): Ruebke 6 6-9 18, Fetting 5 4-6 17, Kappes 4 0-0 9, Hoven 1 0-3 2, Gunderson 4 6-7 14. Totals 20 16-26 61.

P (3-1): Moberg 4 0-0 10, Kvalog 5 10-12 21, Olsgaard 2 1-2 5, Hannestad 4 2-2 13, Nickel 3 8-11 14, Kerr 2 0-0 4, Daugherty 0 1-2 1. Totals 20 22-29 68.

Halftime: P 30, A 26. 3-pointers: Kvalog 1, Hannestad 3, Fetting 3, Kappes 1. Total fouls: P 19, A 22. Rebounds: P 29 (Nickel 11), A 36 (Fetting 10).

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Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548