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Chris Murphy, Published January 25 2014

Kretchman pushes Grovers past Park Christian in boys basketball

MOORHEAD – Fargo Oak Grove point guard Carter Kretchman wants everything that comes with the spotlight. He wants the pressure, the standing-room-only crowd and, more importantly for the Grovers, he wants the ball. Saturday, against Moorhead Park Christian, Kretchman got what he wanted.

And he didn’t disappoint.

Kretchman scored 16 of the Grovers’ final 18 points to help notch a 68-58 win in front of a packed gym at Park Christian.

“When you play more focused, you pay more attention to things and the shots seem to fall,” Kretchman said. “I was more focused at the end of the game. We played with more focus and more heart in the second half.”

Oak Grove (13-1) used a 14-1 run late in the second half to take control of Saturday’s game. Kretchman had eight points during the run, including two 3-pointers, one of which put the Grovers ahead for good at 50-49.

“We love when the gym is packed and everyone is just playing hard,” said Kretchman, who finished with a game-high 20 points. “You get used to the atmosphere for district and regional games with games like this.”

Zach Kvalvog’s layup cut the Oak Grove lead to 64-58 with 1 minute, 39 seconds to go, but Kretchman buried all four of his free throws in the final minute to shut the door.

“Carter did what he’s been doing all year,” Oak Grove coach Kyle Card said. “He took over the game, made some shots, made free throws down the stretch and that was it.”

It was the Park Christian (12-5) bench that kept the Falcons in the game in the first half. Besides Kvalvog’s eight points, the Falcons starters accounted for three of the team’s 28 points in the first half.

Thanks to Austin Daugherty’s nine points and eight points from Noah Moberg off the bench, the Falcons trailed only 33-28 at the break, despite having 13 turnovers to Oak Grove’s one. A five-point halftime deficit with team leader Hunter Nickel playing with a cast on his right arm and Matt Moberg – one of their leading scorers – not playing was fine with the Falcons.

“Our depth really showed,” Park Christian coach Erv Inniger said. “We let some guys get open and they can bury shots. We’ve known that for a long time. They made shots when they needed to and we didn’t.”

Park Christian opened the second half with an 11-4 run to take a 39-37 lead. Cast and all, Nickel scored five of his nine points during the run, adding 16 rebounds and eight blocks to his stat sheet for the game.

With the game tied at 42, Jared Olsgaard hit a jumper, Nickel put in a layup and a Daugherty free throw gave Park Christian a 47-42 lead.

Oak Grove came back with a 3-pointer from Christian Adams, who finished with 12 points. After Daugherty answered with a layup for Park Christian, the Grovers answered with a 14-1 run.

“We used to co-op with them for football, so we know the guys and it’s always fun to play against them,” said Oak Grove senior forward Nick Card, who finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds. “They always want to beat us and we always want to beat them.”

P (12-5): Kvalvog 3 8-10 15, Kerr 1 0-0 2, Hannestad 2 0-0 5, Olsgaard 2 1-2 6, Nickel 4 1-3 9, Daugherty 4 4-7 12, Moberg 4 1-2 9. Totals 20 15-24 58.

O (13-1): Kretchman 7 4-4 20, Adams 5 1-1 12, Dangerfield 4 1-1 9, Card 6 1-2 13, Promersberger 3 0-0 6, Richards 2 0-0 4, Teigen 1 2-4 4. Totals 28 9-12 68.

Halftime: O 33, P 28. 3-pointers: Kvalvog 1, Hannestad 1, Olsgaard 1, Kretchman 2, Adams 1. Total fouls: O 20, P 14.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548