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Tom Mix, Published March 13 2014

Bismarck St. Mary's holds on to edge Wahpeton in Class A boys BB quarterfinals

MINOT, N.D. – Senior guard Ben Weisbeck and the rest of the Bismarck St. Mary’s boys basketball team never lost faith on Thursday.

Down by double digits at halftime, the Saints rallied to edge Wahpeton 56-53 in the quarterfinals of the North Dakota Class A state tournament at the Minot State Dome.

Weisbeck got a 15-foot jump shot to fall with 31 seconds left that broke a 53-53 tie. The shot held up as the game-winning basket after Wahpeton sophomore guard Carson Zarak missed two free throws with 3.6 seconds remaining.

“In that situation, you have to take what the defense gives you,” said Weisbeck, who finished with 10 points. “It was really nice to have the faith of my coach and my teammates to take it. I had the option to pass it, but I knew I was going to take that shot. Thank God it went in.”

The No. 3-ranked Saints (19-4) advance to play Bismarck Century 6:30 p.m. today in the semifinals at the Minot State Dome. Wahpeton (17-6) plays Fargo Shanley in the consolation semifinals noon today at the Minot Municipal Auditorium.

It didn’t surprise the Huskies that St. Mary’s put the ball in Weisbeck’s hands, but the goal was to force another player to take the shot.

“We have to make him pass the ball there,” Wahpeton head coach Jeff Ralph said. “We gave him some space and didn’t stick to our defensive assignments on that possession.”

The No. 4-ranked Huskies still had time to draw up a play to tie or take the lead. Zarak, who finished with 14 points, took the ball at the point and appeared to have a path to the basket for a layup, but was fouled by Weisbeck before he could get an attempt off.

The foul was Weisbeck’s fifth of the game ending his night and gave Zarak the opportunity to send the game into overtime.

“We had our chances,” Ralph said. “If we make some the free throws before that we probably would have had the lead when Carson went to the line. Without his play we wouldn’t have been in the position we were in.”

Wahpeton led 32-22 at halftime and shot 58.8 percent from the field (10-for-17).

St. Mary’s took its first lead of the second half, 47-45, when senior center Dan Neff got a layup to fall with 5 minutes, 27 seconds left. The basket capped a 6-0 run.

The Saints also heated up from the perimeter sinking 4 of 10 3-pointer attempts in the final 18 minutes. Two of the 3s in the second half came from senior guard Ross Kopp, who finished with 11 points.

St. Mary’s senior guard Darius Sparks led all scorers with 18 points.

“We knew we had to believe,” Weisbeck said. “We were not playing Saints basketball in the first half and we had to get back in rhythm. We knew we could come together as a team. … It was a grind. Being down 10 points at halftime it wasn’t going to be one play that got us back in the game. It was going to be many plays. We took it play by play.”

Austin Ralph, Jack Christensen and Blaze Irwin each finished with seven points for the Huskies.

ST. MARY’S (19-4): Kopp 4 0-0 11, Nagel 0 3-4 3, Obritch 3 1-2 6, Dvorak 1 0-1 2, Sparks 6 4-4 18, Weisbeck 3 4-6 10, Neff 3 0-1 6. Totals: 19-43 12-18 56.

WAHPETON (17-6): Yaggie 1 0-0 3, Ralph 3 0-0 7, Zarak 2 9-13 14, Christensen 3 1-3 7, Nelson 3 0-0 6, Irwin 1 5-11 7, Meyer 1 2-2 4, Dassenko 1 3-4 5. Totals: 15-35 20-33 53.

Halftime: W 32, SM 22.

3-pointers: Kopp 3, Obritch, Sparks 2, Yaggie, Ralph, Zarak. Total fouls: SM 22, W 17. Fouled out: Weisbeck. Rebounds: SM 26 (Neff, Nagel 6), W 25 (Zarak, Irwin 5). Turnovers: SM 7, W 10. Assists: SM 9 (Kopp, Nagel 3), W 7 (Zarak 3).