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Wayne Nelson / Forum News Service, Published March 07 2014

Grovers advance to ND Class B state boys basketball title game

GRAND FORKS – A day earlier, Fargo Oak Grove nearly let a 20-point lead slip away.

On Friday night, the Grovers grabbed a lead late in the third quarter and – this time – finished strong. It was a finish that advanced Oak Grove to the brink of a state championship.

Christian Adams scored 29 points while Carter Kretchman added 18 to lift Oak Grove to a 76-68 win against Linton-Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock in the semifinals of the North Dakota Class B state boys basketball tournament at the Alerus Center.

Oak Grove will play undefeated and top-ranked Rugby for tonight’s championship. The Grovers will be seeking their third state Class B title, and first since 2000.

In their quarterfinal win against Flasher on Thursday, the Grovers nearly lost a 20-point second-half lead. But they hung on for a two-point win.

Against Linton-HMB, the Grovers took control of a back-and-forth game with an 11-0 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters.

“Nothing is going to be easy, and we showed that last night,” said Oak Grove coach Kyle Card. “But we stepped up tonight and made some plays.”

Adams and Kretchman made the most plays.

Linton led 48-46 with 2:14 to play in the third quarter. But Kretchman ignited the run with a basket at 1:46.

Colton Dangerfield closed the run with 6:32 to play, and that left the Grovers with a 57-48 lead.

Oak Grove didn’t change its style once it got the lead. The Grovers like to run, and they were in high gear in the fourth quarter.

“We want to keep running,” said Card. “We have the luxury with a big guy (Nick Card) getting rebounds, driving down the floor himself and that gets open shots for other guys.”

Nick Card finished with 11 points, and he also pulled down 19 rebounds, recorded three assists and blocked two shots.

“We didn’t get here because one guy led us,” said the Oak Grove coach. “Christian had a big game, Carter hit a big 3-pointer for us, and Nick grabbed every rebound possible.”

There were 11 lead changes before the Grovers went on their decisive run.

Linton-HMB was led by Johnathon Purintum’s 19 points. Ryan Schneider added 15 and Austin Bernhardt 10.

The Lions, however, were hindered by 38 percent shooting compared to Oak Grove’s 50 percent.

“They did a great job of taking away our penetration,” said Linton-HMB coach Dan Carr. “We did a terrible job of being patient and dealing with it. And they were more physical than we were.”

Oak Grove advances to tonight’s title game with a 25-2 record.

LHMB 15 32 48 68

OG 18 34 53 76

LHMB: Flyberg 9, Bernhardt 10, Small 6, Schmaltz 2, Purintun 19, Holzer 7, Schneider 15.

OG: Dangerfield 8, Adams 29, Kretchman 18, Card 11, Olson 3, Promersberger 7.

Nelson is the sports editor for the Grand Forks Herald