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Eric Peterson, Published March 08 2014

Davies boys tops Wahpeton for East Region championship

FARGO – Collin Larson helped Fargo Davies make school history Saturday night at the Bison Sports Arena.

Larson drained seven 3-pointers to help lift the Eagles to a 67-62 victory against Wahpeton for the East Region boys basketball championship.

Davies won its first region tournament title in its fourth year as a varsity program.

“It’s huge for us to go down and be remembered as that first team to do it. It is pretty special,” said Larson, who scored a team-high 21 points.

The Eagles (20-2) earned the No. 1 seed from the East Region for the North Dakota Class A state tournament, which starts Thursday in Minot.

“I can’t put it into words what it means,” said Eagles head coach Bart Manson, who has been the program’s only head coach. “Of where we started to where we are right now, it’s amazing.”

Wahpeton (17-5) was attempting to win its first region tournament championship since 2009. The Huskies earned a No. 2 seed for the state tournament.

“It’s a battle for seeding, but everybody is good now,” Wahpeton head coach Jeff Ralph said. “Where we end up is where we will be happy to be.”

Larson made 7 of 13 shots from 3-point range, including four in the second half. The 5-foot-11 junior gave Davies a 59-49 lead after sinking a 3-pointer with 7 minutes remaining. That was Larson’s final points of the game and sparked a string of seven consecutive Davies points. Junior guard Austin Schultz capped that mini surge with a transition layup to give the Eagles a 63-49 lead with 5:25 remaining.

Manson said he told one of his assistant coaches before the game that Larson was primed for a big evening.

“Collin was due for a big game and he was loose so I could tell he was going to have a good one tonight,” Manson said.

The Huskies made a strong charge late with a string of nine consecutive points. Senior center Mike Dassenko capped that rally with two free throws that cut the Davies lead to 64-60 with 1:19 remaining. The Huskies, however, weren’t able to get any closer in the final minute.

“I thought we had a whole bunch of chances,” Ralph said. “We just didn’t convert.”

Blaze Irwin paced the Huskies with a game-high 23 points. The 6-foot-5 junior forward also grabbed seven rebounds.

Davies made it to the region title game last season, dropping a 65-58 decision against West Fargo.

“We wanted to win it this year,” Manson said.

WAHPETON (17-5): Dassenko 0 4-4 4, Zarak 1 3-4 5, Irwin 6 9-10 23, Ralph 0 0-0 0, Meyer 3 1-2 7, Lingen 0 0-0 0, Nelson 5 4-8 14, Christensen 3 1-4 7, Yaggie 0 2-2 2. Totals: 18-53 (FG), 24-34 (FT).

DAVIES (20-2): Bates 1 0-0 2, Kretchman 4 11-12 19, Schultz 3 2-4 8, Geffre 2 0-0 4, Berg 1 1-3 3, Larson 7 0-0 21, Feeney 1 0-0 2, Kozlowski 2 4-5 8, Engel 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-48 (FG), 18-24 (FT).

Halftime: Davies 36, Wahpeton 34.

3-point goals: Irwin 2, Larson 7. Total fouls: W 20, FD 26. Fouled out: Zarak, Schultz, Geffre. Rebounds: W 35 (Christensen 8, Irwin 7, Meyer 6), FD 29 (Schultz 6, Kozlowski 6). Turnovers: W 6, FD 10.

All Eastern Dakota Conference team

Hunter Cichos, Devils Lake

Melvin Collins, West Fargo

Jared Lentz, Valley City

Shayden Keplin, Grand Forks Red River

Noah Poss, Fargo South

Unanimous selections

Chad Bartosh, Grand Forks Red River

Colton Lloyd, Fargo South

Bailee McLachlan, Fargo North

Jake Mussman, Grand Forks Central

Travis Schock, West Fargo

Patrick Strom, Fargo Shanley

Jack Christensen, Wahpeton

Blaze Irwin, Wahpeton

Andrew Kozlowski, Fargo Davies

Tanner Kretchman, Fargo Davies

East Region senior athlete of the year

Tanner Kretchman, Fargo Davies

East Region co-coaches of the year

Bart Manson, Fargo Davies

Jeff Ralph, Wahpeton

East Region athletic director of the year

Lenny Ohlhauser

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com