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Greg DeVillers / Forum News Service, Published March 08 2014

Grovers win in overtime for ND Class B state title

GRAND FORKS – For four and a half minutes, Fargo Oak Grove was held scoreless to open the fourth quarter. The Grovers saw a six-point lead turn into a seven-point deficit.

There was no panic for the Grovers, however.

“I saw the look in the kids’ eyes,” Oak Grove coach Kyle Card said. “We had leaders out there. They weren’t going to be denied. And with a special player like Carter Kretchman, you’re always in a game.”

Kretchman’s long-range accuracy did indeed spark the Grovers to the championship on Saturday in the North Dakota Class B state boys basketball tournament. The Grovers rallied from a 48-41 deficit with 3 minutes, 30 seconds left in regulation to beat Rugby 68-58 in overtime.

After tying the game at 58 on a Kretchman trey from the top of the key with 41 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Oak Grove (26-2) held Rugby scoreless in overtime to pull away to the win.

Facing that 48-41 deficit, Kretchman hit long treys from the top of the key and finished a 3-point play to rally Oak Grove to within 52-50. Oak Grove pulled even with 1:12 left on a Christian Adams 3-pointer. After Tanner Bernhardt hit a trey to put Rugby back up by three, Kretchman struck again for the tying shot.

“He had ice in his veins,” Card said.

Kretchman also had confidence.

“They were playing good defense,” Kretchman said of Rugby in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. “We were in a slump. I knew I had to knock down some shots. I just let it fly.

“My teammates and coaches trusted me. It was just confidence.”

The overtime was scoreless until Coulton Dangerfield converted an offensive rebound with 2:27 left. Then it was all free throws in the final two minutes, eight in all, six of them by Kretchman.

Rugby, meanwhile, was 0-for-10 from the field with two turnovers in the extra session.

“I think we got them a little tired,” Card said. “When we got into overtime, I liked our chances. We’d made plays down the stretch. And we’ve played good defense all year.”

Rugby, which suffered its first loss after 27 straight wins, also was plagued by fouls. Three starters wound up fouling out.

When Rugby put together a 13-0 run to start the fourth quarter, highlighted by nine Bernhardt points, “we were feeling good,” Rugby coach Mike Santjer said. “But we were in serious foul trouble. We couldn’t play as aggressively as we usually do.

“And it was tough to get into a flow on offense (in overtime). We had too many missing parts. We were missing some big scorers.”

Rugby came out strong, controlling the scoreboard in the first half and leading by as many as eight. But Oak Grove closed the second quarter on a 10-0 run to go ahead 27-25 at halftime.

In the game of spurts, the Grovers pulled ahead by as much as seven in a third quarter that ended with Oak Grove leading 41-35. Then Rugby answered to start the fourth.

Kretchman, who was 5 of 7 on treys and 11 of 11 at the free-throw line, poured in 36 points. Adams added 11.

Brad Heidlebaugh paced Rugby with 24 points, with Bernhardt scoring 16 and Zach Miller 10.

R 11 25 35 58 58

OG 8 27 41 58 68

R: Hamilton 6, Heidlebaugh 24, Bernhardt 16, Haman 2, Miller 10.

OG: Kretchman 36, Card 3, Olson 7, Dangerfield 8, Promersberger 3, Adams 11.

DeVillers writes for the Grand Forks Herald