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Greg DeVillers / Forum News Service, Published January 09 2014

Red River rallies past Wahpeton for boys basketball win

GRAND FORKS – Early in the first half, while Wahpeton was going on an 18-0 run, Jason Gregory benched his entire starting lineup.

“We weren’t matching Wahpeton’s intensity,” said Gregory, the Grand Forks Red River High School boys basketball coach. “It was on defense. I wasn’t happy. So we put in five new guys, and they gave us energy, a spark that carried over for the rest of the game.”

The Roughriders learned the lesson about defensive intensity. With the starters playing the bulk of the minutes, Red River held visiting Wahpeton to two points in the final 6 minutes, 27 seconds as the Roughriders rallied to a 49-48 win Thursday night.

Chad Bartosh provided the tying and winning points for the 4-1 Roughriders. But the win was all about defense.

After Carson Zarak hit a free throw with 6:27 remaining to put the Huskies ahead 46-41, Wahpeton managed just one basket the rest of the way. That was a layup by Derek Meyer with 3:01 left for a 48-46 lead.

“The defense was huge,” Gregory said. “We worked on it at the end and got stops. We played better fundamentally, we rebounded and we did a great job of helping and playing team defense.

“It was a grind-it-out game. Both teams played good defense.”

Red River erased the 46-41 deficit on a pair of Shayden Keplin baskets, a layup and a 3-pointer from the baseline.

Meyer gave the Huskies the lead back at 48-46. But Bartosh tied the game with 2:24 remaining when he drove the lane for a basket.

Then, with 1:16 remaining and the Roughriders close to a shot-clock violation, Bartosh again drove the lane and threw up an off-balance shot. He was off the mark, but was fouled and hit the second of two free-throw tries for the winning point.

Bartosh finished with 14 points while Keplin had a career-high 18 points, hitting four treys. “Shayden had a great game,” Gregory said.

Wahpeton had taken control early on its 18-0 run, giving the Huskies a 24-7 lead seven minutes into the game. Wahpeton hit two open 3s and five layups in the spurt, hitting eight consecutive field-goal attempts.

While Wahpeton coach Jeff Ralph said his team was playing well at that point, “if you didn’t think Red River would make a run, you’d be crazy. I was happy to be up seven (33-26) at halftime.

“We shot poorly in the second half, and we made some crucial turnovers. We really bogged down offensively. We had opportunities, but we didn’t cash in.”

Jack Christensen’s 13 points led the 3-2 Huskies, with Blaze Irwin adding 11 points and Meyer 10.

Half: W 33, GFRR 23

W: Christensen 13, Irwin 11, Meyer 10, Zarak 5, Nelson 4, Grueneich 3, Matejcek 2.

GFRR: Keplin 18, Bartosh 14, Enerson 6, Hanson 3, Soleim 3, Straus 3, Robson 1, Dennis 1.

DeVillers writes for the Grand Forks Herald