Ty's Take: Boys basketball, girls hockey, wrestling sweep during week
Several winter sports have either seen or passed the halfway point of the regular season, so the most critical games are yet to come.
This past week saw some West Fargo teams continue to shine, while others are battling out of funks.
So without further ado, here's your Packer sports week in review.
Boys basketball sweeps
The West Fargo boys basketball team now sits comfortably in second place in the Eastern Dakota Conference after beating two conference rivals last week.
Neither victory came easy, however.
The Packers' first win was against visiting Grand Forks Red River (4-3 EDC, 5-5) on Tuesday, Jan. 26. The Roughriders led 35-31 at the end of the half, but West Fargo (7-1, 9-3) came back to win 74-65.
After jockeying for position early on, the Packers managed to pull ahead of Red River by nine points midway through the first half. Then, sparked by a steal from Braden Battle that resulted in a layup, the Roughriders went on a roll and put up 12 unanswered points. The Packers finally got things together and slowed their momentum, but looked haggard by the end of the half.
Coming into the second half, whatever pep talk West Fargo coach Greg Limke used must have worked. The Packers got on the board early after Austin Nelson hit a layup from a sweet pass by Chase Farkas.
The lead swung back and forth until Nelson was fouled a couple minutes later. He went 2-for-2 from the line and put the Packers up 43-42.
They wouldn't relinquish the lead again.
Nelson finished with a game-high 27 points and 12 rebounds, while Farkas put up 13 points and Brady Schwartz hit 12. The Packers hit 55.6 percent from the field and were 70 percent from the free-throw line.
Leading the Roughriders was Luke Schreiner with 20 points. Red River was solid during the first half, but slipped later and finished only 38.9 percent from the field.
West Fargo's second win last week came Jan. 30, against Fargo South (4-4, 4-9) during the KX4/Scheels Shootout at the Fargodome. The Packers won 61-60 in overtime.
Veteran leaders Nelson and Farkas were West Fargo's one-two punch, hitting 18 and 17 points, respectively.
The Packers faced lowly Grand Forks Central (1-6, 1-10) on Tuesday night in Grand Forks, but the results were not in when this edition of the Pioneer went to press. They play No. 1 Fargo North (7-1, 12-1) on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. in West Fargo.
The last time the Packers faced the Spartans was Dec. 22, at Fargo North. It was a close battle, but North prevailed 63-61.
Boys hockey splits
The West Fargo boys hockey team is sitting right in the middle of the EDC standings after falling to Grand Forks Central 8-1 on Jan. 26, and beating Jamestown 5-1 on Jan. 28.
"Everything is going pretty good," said Tim Capouch, West Fargo boys hockey coach.
The Packers couldn't quite get things rolling against the No. 2 Knights (8-1-0, 14-2-0). Central's Paul LaDue had four goals and Seth Lang made 13 saves. Sophomore Charlie Torrance scored West Fargo's only goal late in the third period.
But against lowly Jamestown (1-9-2 WDA, 2-12-2), the Packers were hoping to bounce back.
However, they weren't expecting to face a super-hot netminder in Tygh Yatskis.
"He's a very good goalie," Capouch said of Yatskis, who finished with 62 saves and has a 90 percent saves against average for the season.
Jamestown actually led through two periods after Ben Sorenson scored late in the first period. The second period was scoreless and things looked grim for the Packers, who had 40 shots on net by that time.
Finally in the third, senior Landon Knoll scored nearly six minutes in to put West Fargo on the board. That was the spark the Packers needed, as Jeremy Johnson, Derek Sand and Kyle and Gage Shoman each scored in succession.
One of the Packers biggest questions of late has come at goalie. During the last few games, Capouch and co-coach Troy Miller have opted to switch between starter Cameron Holland and backup Josh Hanson.
"Both of them come to the table with different things," Capouch said. "We're going to play both of them until we're comfortable with it."
Hanson started against Central but was pulled after the first period after letting in three goals on 14 shots. Holland finished the game with 24 saves. Hanson also started against Jamestown.
"We're not trying to shake them up," Capouch said. What goalie starts is dependent on what team West Fargo faces, he said.
The Packers played Fargo North (4-7-1, 5-12-1) on Tuesday night, but the results were not in when this edition of the Pioneer went to press. They host Devils Lake (5-6-1, 9-7-1) at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 4.
Girls hockey gets first tie, but remains undefeated
The Packers sparkling season record almost got its first blemish last week against Fergus Falls.
The Otters were on par with West Fargo as far as shots on goal at 23 apiece, which the score ultimately reflected in a 2-2 tie.
But the Packers (13-0-0, 13-0-1) rebounded from the close call and went on a frenzy, scoring a combined 22 goals during the next two games.
On Friday, Jan. 29, West Fargo shut out Dickinson 13-0, and followed up the next day by beating Mandan 9-1.
The big star of the week was senior Kelsey Kloos, who amassed a total of 10 points, of which five were goals against Dickinson. Season points leader Kacie Johnson also added to her resume, scoring four goals and three assists during the three-game stretch.
The Packers had a tough contest Tuesday night against No. 2 Fargo North (10-1-0, 13-1-0), but the results weren't in by the time the Pioneer went to press. West Fargo plays a nonconference game Friday at 7:30 p.m. against Minnesota powerhouse Warroad (23-1-2).
Odds and ends
Wrestling: The Packers beat Grand Forks Red River 45-19 on Thursday before heading to Aberdeen, S.D., for the Lee Wolf Invitational. West Fargo continued its season of success by taking first place with 189.5 points. Championship wins came from Preston Lehmann in 160, Tyler Lehmann in 189 and Scot Schiller in 215. Seventh grader Jordan Shearer, who is ranked No. 2 in the state at 103, made it all the way to the final round but lost in the championship bout. Teammates Tommy Kuehn (No. 3 in 125) and Erick Lehmann (No. 2 in 171) also fell in the championship round. The Packers face off against visiting Wahpeton at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 5.
Girls basketball: West Fargo's struggles this season didn't end last week as they fell to EDC rivals Grand Forks Red River 47-39, and Fargo South 86-62. The Packers (1-6, 2-9) play again Saturday, Feb. 6, at 3:45 p.m. against visiting Fargo North (6-2, 10-3).