Kretchman too much
GRAND FORKS – Rugby missed all 10 shots it took in overtime and Fargo-Oak Grove junior Tanner Kretchman couldn’t miss late.
Kretchman hit from NBA range and from every corner of the hardwood en route to a 36-point performance as the second-ranked Grovers dealt the Panthers their first loss of the season in the Class B boys basketball state championship at the Alerus Center on March 8.
The Grovers won 68-58 to capture their first state title since 2000. The No. 1 Panthers will have to wait another year for a shot at their first championship since 1962.
“We just couldn’t buy one in the extra time and we got in bad foul trouble,” Rugby coach Mike Santjer said. “We lost a few kids and it’s hard to win when you don’t got the guys you need on the floor.”
Rugby junior standout Brad Heidlebaugh finished with a team-high 24 points, but fouled out with a minute left in overtime and the Grovers leading 63-58. Rugby junior Zach Miller fouled out with 1:28 left and senior guard Jaedon Haman picked up his fifth foul with 2:25 remaining in regulation.
“If we could’ve stayed out of foul trouble that would’ve really helped,” Miller said. “We needed everybody on the floor and sometimes we couldn’t get everybody out there. It just didn’t fall for us.”
Everything was falling for both teams in the fourth quarter. Oak Grove (26-2) had a 41-35 lead into the final frame of regulation, but Rugby junior Tanner Bernhardt connected on two 3-pointers and was fouled on a third. Bernhardt made all three free throws and Rugby (27-1) had its first lead since late in the second quarter.
Heidlebaugh was scoring at will down low, but Kretchman took over with consecutive 3-pointers from the NBA range. He then converted a 3-point play with 2:25 left and Rugby led 52-50. Oak Grove junior Christian Adams tied the game at 55 on a 3-pointer with 1:11 left. Bernhardt answered with a 3 and Kretchman forced overtime with a step-back bomb again from well past the 3-point arc.
“I have a lot of fun casting from out there,” Kretchman said.
Oak Grove coach Kyle Card was overcome with emotion and held his head in his hands.
“(Kretchman’s) a special player. He refuses to lose,” Card said. “That’s what this team’s all about. It’s just a group of kids that’s not gonna be denied and he just stepped up and hit huge shots for us. He’ll be the first one to tell you it’s about the team.”
Oak Grove ended the first half on a 10-0 run as Rugby went on a nearly five-minute scoring drought. Heidlebaugh hit a 3-pointer to give the Panthers a 25-17 lead with 4:54 left in the second quarter.
Miller was whistled for his third foul on Oak Grove’s next possession and the Grovers took advantage of the lanky 6-foot-4 player’s absence.
Oak Grove forwards Austin Promersberger and Isaac Olson used their size to combine for six points in the run. Olson hit a shot from the short corner with three seconds left to give the Grovers their first lead of the game and a 27-25 advantage at the break. Senior forward Nick Card’s eight rebounds in the half helped Oak Grove to a 36-27 final advantage on the boards. Card, the coach’s son, finished with 17 rebounds.
Heidlebaugh finished with 11 rebounds and six blocks.
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