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Packers boys basketball survives Spuds comeback in record-breaking thriller

West Fargo's Luke Lennon grabs a rebound against Moorhead's Maleeck Harden at the Packers gym on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018. David Samson/The Forum1 / 4
West Fargo's Joe Pistorius is sandwiched by Moorhead defenders Maleeck Harden and Ethan Hoff at the Packers gym on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018. David Samson/The Forum2 / 4
Moorhead's Ethan Hoff and West Fargo's Brett Liebl fight for position under the basket at the Packers gym on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018. David Samson/The Forum3 / 4
West Fargo's Tanner Zepeda drives against Moorhead's Ben Nelson at the Packers gym on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018. David Samson/The Forum4 / 4

WEST FARGO—Abdi Sufi is the first to admit West Fargo started playing lazy. The Packers were getting easy layups and hit shots in the first half. Then they went into survival mode.

Despite a thrilling attempt by Moorhead to come back from a 23-point deficit at halftime, the Packers boys basketball team just kept scoring and beat the Spuds 105-97 in a record-setting performance on Tuesday, Jan. 2, at West Fargo High School.

With 105 points, the Packers set a new West Fargo school record for points in a game, breaking the previous record of 102 points in 1990.

"It's just one of those games you have to play through it and play tough," Sufi said. "You don't let your mind get to you and play through it."

The Packers moved the ball with urgency and purpose in their half-court plays early on. The Packers (8-0) jumped out to a 9-0 run then built the lead to 32-16 with less than nine minutes left in the first half before taking a 62-39 lead at intermission.

Joe Pistorius caught fire in the later minutes of the first half with a variety of free throws, driving layups and deep 3-pointers. He finished with a team-high 32 points on 8 of 15 shooting and was 4-for-7 on 3-pointers. He also made all 12 of his free throws.

Moorhead's Alend Alemadi, who scored a team-high 32 points on 12 of 21 shooting, said the Spuds (5-4) wanted to come out of the locker room looking like beasts who had just awoken.

After the first half, the Spuds ramped up the defensive pressure and totaled 13 steals. The Spuds got within 11 points just six minutes into the second half then put together a 15-9 run in a four-minute span to get within a possession.

The Spuds eventually took a one-point lead after Alemadi scored a basket despite a foul with about four minutes remaining for their first lead of the game.

"We just came out with better defense," Alemadi said. "The second half I think was good for us."

But that lead didn't last long. Sufi gave the Packers back the lead on a layup then swung momentum back in West Fargo's favor on an offensive rebound and putback to give the Packers a seven-point lead. Sufi totaled 19 points on 6 of 10 shooting to go with a game-high 16 rebounds, including four on the offensive end.

The Packers turned the ball over 23 times to Moorhead's 13. But Luke Lennon, who added 22 points and eight rebounds, believes the turning point was in the rebounding advantage. The Packers had 42 rebounds to Moorhead's 23 and had 12 offensive rebounds to Moorhead's six.

"I never doubted. I just had confidence in my team," Lennon said. "Those offensive rebounds, we probably would've lost if we didn't have those."

Halftime: WF 62, M 39

M: Alemadi 32, Harden 18, Hagen 11, Larson 11, Melton 10, Nelson 8, Hoff 6, Garcia 1.

WF: Pistorius 32, Lennon 22, Sufi 19, Zepeda 11, Miller 8, Mertz 4, Moton 4, Sell 3, Holaday 2.

Colton Pool

Pool is a reporter for The West Fargo Pioneer covering city sports and community news. He was the sports editor for The Dickinson Press covering Dickinson State athletics, high school athletics and Southwest Speedway. He graduated from North Dakota State with a degree in journalism and a minor in English. You can reach him by phone at 701-451-5715 or tweet him @CPoolReporter. 

(701) 451-5715
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