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State Class B Boys Basketball, Day 2

By Staff | Mar 21, 2015

Tournament Day 1

Rugby Panthers 80, Parshall Braves 39

Fargo-Oak Grove Grovers 70, MayPort CG Patriots 58

Four Winds-Minnewaukan Indians 61, Shiloh Christian Skyhawks 55

LaMoure-Litchville-Marion Loboes 71, New England Tigers 61 – Double OT

Tournament Day 2

Parshall 47, MayPort 44

Shiloh Christian 61, New England 58 -OT

Rugby 81, Oak Grove 65

Four Winds 51, LLM 47

Tournament Day 3

7th place game: MayPort vs New England, 1 p.m.

5th place game: Parshall vs Shiloh Christian, 2:45 p.m,

3rd place game: Oak Grove vs LLM, 6:30 p.m.

Championship: Rugby vs Four Winds, 8:15 p.m.

PANTHERS ADVANCE TO CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND

by Thor Skjelver, Tribune Reporter

Last year, the state championship saw a matchup of the top two teams in the state, the Rugby Panthers and the Oak Grove Grovers. It ended the best season the Panthers had had since 1962 with a heart-wrenching 68-58 overtime loss – their first and only loss that season. The animosity the Panthers and their legion of orange-clad fans harbor for anything related to the Grovers is second to none.

“I hate a lot of things,” one Panther fan could be heard saying, “but Oak Grove is at the top of the list.”

The Panthers effectively avenged their loss to the Grovers, outperforming them in every aspect of the game after the first quarter.

“That game last year fueled us,” senior Brad Heidlebaugh said. “We’re working towards not having the feeling of losing again. We just gotta play like we did in those last three quarters.

Heidlebaugh had another career night with 25 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. Senior Zach Miller was the real spark plug though. He put up his 17 points and pulled down six rebounds when the Panthers needed them most when they were down in the second quarter. Tanner Bernhardt, the team’s perimeter superstar, put up 16 points, with three makes from behind the arc.

The Grovers’ effort to upset the Panthers was spearheaded by senior Christian Adams, who was the focus of Oak Grove’s rally in the second half. He put the ball through the basket 15 times for 21 points. Isaac Olson followed up with 17 points and nine rebounds.

The first half was a back-and-forth defensive affair, but the Panthers woke up and adapted to the Grovers’ style of play in the second quarter and started to put the game out of reach. In the first three minutes of the quarter, the Panthers outscored Oak Grove 11-4 and took the lead, albeit a short one as Isaac Olson tied the game with a layup. The Panthers gave themselves a nice 31-25 cushion after their defense smothered them for the next two minutes. Whenever the Panthers went to the line, the mighty Panther section had something to stand up and cheer for, as the Panthers shot 9-10 from the line in the second quarter. And Ryan Michels, victim to a nasty fall on his ankle the previous day, came back and scored three points for Rugby in the second quarter.

“We came out and got them (Rugby) confused,” Oak Grove head coach Kyle Card said, “but they were more aggressive weren’t going to be denied.”

After halftime, Rugby came out and scored five points in the first minute to further separate the teams. Adams and Miller both led in scoring in the first couple of minutes of the second half, going back and forth in a shootout battle. But as the quarter wore on, The Panthers’ many scorers’ efforts outpaced whatever Adams tried to do. Rugby extended their lead 50-39 after Bernhardt made a short trip to the line, but Olson shot a three to bring their deficit under 10. Desperately trying to rally his team to a repeat victory, Adams scored 13 points in the quarter.

The fourth quarter opened up with the Grovers employing a man defense tactic to rush the Panthers into taking bad shots. It didn’t faze Heidlebaugh as he shot a three to emphasize that point. The Panthers pulled ahead even further after Hunter Hager laid in a layup under pressure, pushing the lead to 70-56. With 3:43, Blake Richards, a defensive force to reckon with, fouled out against Ryan Michels. At 79-60, Rugby had its largest lead yet, with 2:12 left in the game. In the final minute, the JV team was sent in to end the blowout, 81-65.

The Panthers are up against budding rivals, the Four Winds-Minnewauken Indians – winners of an entertaining, intense and heart-pounding semifinal showdown over the Lamoure-Litchville-Marion Loboes, 51-47 – for a state championship title. The Indians are one of two teams to beat the Panthers during the regular season – winning 61-60 in front of a loud and raucous Four Winds home crowd.

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