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Tom Mix, Published January 28 2014

No. 5 Fargo Oak Grove upend No. 1 Milnor

MILNOR, N.D. – Before a standing-room only crowd, Tuesday’s North Dakota Class B showdown between No. 1-ranked Milnor and No. 5-ranked Fargo Oak Grove lived up to its hype.

Oak Grove junior guard Carter Kretchman got a layup to fall with seven seconds remaining, giving the Grovers a 73-72 heartpounding win over previously unbeaten and defending state champion Milnor.

“I waited until I saw an opportunity,” said Kretchman, who led the Grovers with 26 points. “I saw an opening and decided to take advantage of it by taking the ball to the hole.”

With the victory, Oak Grove (14-1) snapped Milnor’s state-best 24-game winning streak, which dates back to last season. The last time Milnor lost a game was Feb. 9 of last year to Maple Valley prior to the District 1 tournament.

Milnor (15-1) trailed 39-38 at halftime and spent much of the second half trailing the Grovers, but the Bison led a charge in the fourth quarter.

With 17 seconds remaining, Milnor senior forward Wyatt Mund converted a putback layup to give the Bison a 72-71 lead – their first of the fourth quarter.

That was when the Grovers chose to push rather than panic.

“I didn’t want to call a timeout,” Oak Grove head coach Kyle Card said of the Grovers’ possession following Mund’s score. “That would have allowed them to set up their defense so we let Carter take the ball and try to create something.”

Milnor called a timeout following Kretchman’s basket and set up a play that would put the ball in the hands of senior all-state guard Briton Bussman.

Bussman attempted a 3-pointer as time expired, but it rimmed out.

“I thought we got the ball up the court well and got a decent look,” Milnor head coach Ben Nelson said. “It is tough. If that shot falls we have a much different feeling in our locker room after the game, but it wasn’t just that shot not falling. We had some turnovers down the stretch and a few missed assignments on defense.”

Bussman led all scorers with 31 points and 11 rebounds.

In last year’s Region 1 championship, Milnor defeated Oak Grove. It could be a repeat matchup in next month’s region tournament at the Fargo Civic Center.

“It is a big win,” Oak Grove senior forward Nick Card said. “Milnor defeated us in the Region 1 championship game last season and we were looking for some revenge.”

“We knew it was going to be a game of runs against Milnor,” Kyle Card added. “We didn’t want to let them have too many runs, but they have a really great player in Bussman, who you just have to try and contain the best you can. At the end it was just two great teams going at it and only one of them was going to come out on top.”

Oak Grove 23 39 59 73

Milnor 20 38 53 72

OAK GROVE: Kretchman 11 2-2 26, Adams 7 2-2 16, Dangerfield 4 2-2 10, Card 3 0-0 6, Promersberger 2 1-2 5, Olson 2 0-0 5, Richards 2 0-1 5. Totals: 31 7-9 73.

MILNOR: B. Bussman 12 6-8 31, Mund 8 0-0 6, Marlatt 4 0-2 11, Martinson 2 0-0 4, C. Yagow 2 0-0 5, Olsen 2 0-1 5. Totals: 30 6-11 72.

3-pointers: Kretchman, Olson, Richards, B. Bussman C. Yagow, Marlatt 3. Total fouls: OG 9, M 15. Fouled out: C. Yagow. Rebounds: OG 29 (Card 12), M 32 (B. Bussman 11). Turnovers: OG 13, M 15.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562