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Wayne Nelson / Forum News Service, Published March 06 2014

Rugby defeats New Town in overtime

GRAND FORKS - For the No. 1-ranked Rugby Panthers, 3-point attempt after 3-point attempt was off the mark. Some weren’t even close.

But Rugby coach Mike Santjer didn’t hold up the stop sign.

“Our kids have the green light,” said Santjer. “We don’t often tell them not to shoot.”

So, the Panthers kept shooting. Eventually, one 3-pointer fell. And it was the biggest of the game, as Tanner Bernhardt’s 3-pointer at the start of overtime lifted Rugby to a 64-58 win over New Town on Thursday night in the quarterfinal round of the North Dakota Class B state boys basketball tournament at the Alerus Center.

“We have good enough shooters,” said Santjer. “They obviously didn’t display that tonight. But we still have a lot of confidence in them.”

Bernhardt’s 3-pointer from the wing broke a 51-51 tie. And the Panthers seemed to break loose from there, opening a 60-53 lead with 1 minute, 53 seconds to go.

Joe Baker scored 13 points for New Town, including a 3-point shot from well beyond the half-court stripe to end the first quarter. The basket was among ESPN’s “SportsCenter” top-10 plays Thursday night.

Rugby led 44-41 after three quarters. But New Town, sparked by the inside play of Daryl Grady, grabbed a 47-44 lead with 6:03 to play. Grady’s putback with 1:44 to go gave the Eagles a 51-49 advantage but Rugby tied it with 39 seconds to go on two Zach Miller free throws.

The Eagles had two good looks at the basket in the closing seconds but couldn’t convert, which forced overtime.

For most of the overtime, however, the Eagles played without Grady and leading scorer Wayne Fox, as both fouled out.

Bernhardt had missed 11 straight from beyond the arc before connecting at the start of overtime.

“Every shooter has his slump,” said Bernhardt, who made six 3-pointers in the Region 6 title game. “I just kept my head up and kept shooting and one finally fell in.”

R 14 25 44 51 64

NT 15 30 41 51 58

R: Zach Miller 18, Jaedon Haman 16, Brad Heidlebaugh 22, Chris Hamilton 1, Nolan Hovland 2, Tanner Bernhardt 5.

NT: Joe Baker 13, Daryl Grady 14, Elijah Grady 8, Shane Buerkle 4, Wayne Fox 8, Payton White Owl 6, Dylan Bear 5.