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Boys basketball battle rages on in East Region

West Fargo's Brock Evenson, right, looks to pass around Mitch Anderson of Grand Forks Red River during their game Thursday, in West Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Communications Co.

Looking at the West Fargo boys basketball team's season record is slightly deceiving, especially when comparing it to the rest of the Eastern Dakota Conference.

The Packers' five wins and two losses are respectable, sure enough, and put them comfortably in a third-place tie with Fargo South (a team they've yet to face, by the way).

But to really see how close the conference is, one needs to dig through the scores themselves.

Doing so results in a distinct discovery: if current trends hold true, this year is going to be a fight to a finish.

While Grand Forks Red River can boast the lone still-flawless record, that untarnished sheen did not come easy.

Case in point: their game Thursday against West Fargo. The Packers actually led 33-28 at halftime, before an eventual 53-53 tie at the end of regulation. It was only in the extra period that the Roughriders came away with the 63-56 victory.

Then on Saturday, West Fargo rebounded with a dangerously close 50-47 win over last-place Fargo North (0-6 EDC, 0-7 overall).

Parity, it seems, is prevalent.

But in all fairness, the season is pretty early; a lot can happen between now and the postseason, which kicks off with the East Region quarterfinals Feb. 28. It's anyone's guess as to who will be on top when all is said and done.

The Packers have just as good a chance as any other team, and given their assets, a better chance than most.

Jumping to the forefront is team points leader Justin Heisler, who has led the Packers in four games this season, including Thursday's loss to Red River. The 6-foot, 2-inch junior forward put up 17 points against the Riders, and including his 11 points in the following game against North, is averaging 12 points per game.

On top of that, Heisler leads the Packers in steals with 15, and is more than 50 percent successful from the floor.

But he is just one of West Fargo's tools.

Right behind Jeisler is Derek Hogenson, who in only five games has accumulated 55 points for an average of 11 points per game. The lanky 6-foot-4 center also has West Fargo's lone two blocks, and is a sniper with a 51-percent average sink rate with field goals.

On Saturday, it was Brady Rotert who led West Fargo against the Spartans with 12 points. The 5-9 junior guard also made his only free throw on the night, improving his average to 81.8 percent from the line.

Other big players include Andy Young (7.6 points per game, 10 steals), and Kory Wolden (7 PPG, 23 assists).

West Fargo will need these guys, and all the rest, to keep firing as a cohesive unit if they want to climb the ranks of the EDC.

Their most recent chance was Tuesday against Valley City (0-6, 2-7) but results were unavailable by press time. The Packers play again Friday at 7:30 p.m., when they travel to lock horns with the Bruins (5-2, 4-3).