The Packers boys basketball team couldn't bring home a conference title.
But they're going to state.
West Fargo went 2-for-3 during last weekend's East Region Tournament in Fargo, getting the edge over No. 4 Grand Forks Red River in a state qualifier Saturday that punched their ticket to this weekend's North Dakota Class A State Tournament at the FargoDome.
The Packers (15-7) will face Bismarck Century (17-5) at 4 p.m. Thursday (these teams met once during the regular season Dec. 28, with the Patriots coming out on top 71-58). The winner moves on to the championship semifinals Friday at approximately 3 p.m. The loser will bump down to the consolation bracket, with a semifinal game to be played around 2 p.m.
After a 54-35 home-court victory Tuesday over Valley City (11-10), the No. 3 Packers were poised to take on Fargo North (16-6) during the conference semifinals. The Spartans, however, were stifling.
Limiting the Packers to a mere 11 first-half points, North marched to a 53-35 win that bounced West Fargo from title contention.
But the Packers still had a chance to make the state tournament, and the only way was through Red River.
Saturday's game started heavily in the Roughriders' favor. The Packers were continually playing catch-up through the first half, briefly leading twice before succumbing to their foe.
West Fargo started the second half with a two-point deficit, and fought to gain control. The tide finally turned after some choice plays by Justin Schock.
Jon Pistorius passed high to the 6-foot, 9-inch center under the basket, who made a deft swivel into an easy layup and brought the Packers within six points. A few plays later and trailing by four with 12 minutes, 34 seconds remaining, Schock drove for the basket and scored ,while drawing the foul. His extra point brought West Fargo within one. Moments later, another Schock layup gave the Packers the lead.
Grant Ringdahl's 3-pointer with 10:10 left in the game put West Fargo ahead again, and a string of Packer scoring sparked by cheers from raucous Packers fans kept them there.
For their efforts, Chase Farkas and Schock were named to the All-Conference team.