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West Fargo's Justin Schock (50) shoots over Bismarck Century's Devin Melvie during Thursday's first round of the Class A state boys basketball tournament at the FargoDome. Carrie Snyder/The Pioneer

Fight to the finish

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By Tyler Shoberg

For two straight nights, there was almost palpable electricity as thunderous roars from cheering fans shook the FargoDome rafters.

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And for two straight nights, spectators were at the edge of their seats during the North Dakota Class A state boys basketball tournament, watching teams battle from one end of the court to the other as the clock ticked down the final seconds.

For the Packers, it was a bittersweet weekend; a happy occasion to have qualified, but an end result that was just short of their goals.

During Thursday's opening round, Bismarck Century pulled away with mere seconds to spare to take a 63-61 win into the next round. The Patriots kept up their winning ways, eventually defeating Bismarck in the championship game for the state title.

In the consolation semifinals Friday, the Packers found themselves facing a familiar conference foe in Fargo Shanley. Once again, it came down to the bitter end before the Deacons eventually pulled away with the 69-66 victory.

That was it: two straight nights of excitement ending in heartbreak for West Fargo.

Though it's easy to look at the scoreboard and make an assumption about a team, the evidence of just how good the Packers were was left on the court. In both games, they eventually clawed back from 8-point deficits to either tie or take the lead late in the game before succumbing to their opponents.

There also were several stars who kept West Fargo competitive during the stretch.

One was Grant Ringdahl, who earned All-Tournament team honors for his performance on the court. The 6-foot, 4-inch senior played an integral part for the Packers, amassing a team-high 32 points on the weekend (20 of which came against Century) and six 3-pointers. Ringdahl also was a force on defense, leading his team both nights in rebounds and accumulating 16 on the weekend.

Another chart-topper was season points leader Chase Farkas. The senior was key at getting the ball where it needed to be, making some clinch passes that culminated in scores. He finished the weekend with 27 points and 13 assists.

Not to be outdone was Justin Schock. Though he struggled to find the basket against the Patriots, he hit his stride against the Deacons. Stationed in front of the basket, the 6-9 senior was quick to snatch high passes and turn them into easy layups. His 18 points against Shanley was only matched by Farkas.

While the Packers may not have come away with a team award at state, they did prove they were at least worthy to be there. If anything, this will be fodder for next year's team to chew on.

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