Eagles boys basketball knocks off unbeaten Packers in battle between top-ranked teams
WEST FARGO—Practice didn't feel right for the Fargo Davies boys basketball team. The Eagles had won their previous 30 regular season games, but then West Fargo Sheyenne beat the Eagles on their home court last week for the first time ever.
Braeton Motschenbacher admits the Eagles had plenty to work on. Even after all the wins, he feels the Eagles had something to prove.
Motschenbacher scored a game-high 25 points to lead the No. 1-ranked Eagles to an 83-70 win over previously undefeated No. 2-ranked West Fargo for a bounceback win in the Eastern Dakota Conference on Tuesday, Jan. 16, at West Fargo High School.
"We were heartbroken," Motschenbacher said. "We just needed to go to practice the next day and this game and prove it again. We've got to do whatever we can to win a state championship."
Jaden Klabo, who added 19 points and 10 rebounds, said the Eagles knew these last two games would be a tough stretch. He admits he would have rather won both, but Klabo said the Eagles learned important lessons against Sheyenne that they took into their game against the Packers.
The first of those lessons was to focus on defense. The Eagles forced the Packers to shoot 4 of 22 (18 percent) from the 3-point line and 30-for-70 (41 percent) from the field. The Eagles, who shot 31 of 74 (41 percent) and 8-for-23 (34 percent) from 3-point range also totaled 37 rebounds to the Packers' 34.
"We just wanted to lock them up," Klabo said. "We just tried to get a body on everybody when a shot goes up."
True to form for the top two ranked teams in the state, the Packers and Eagles exchanged several leads in the first half. Neither team scored more than six unanswered points or took more than a six-point lead until the Eagles did at halftime.
Klabo said the Eagles settled in offensively in the second half. The Eagles tried to take advantage of their size, as all of their starters are 6-foot-1 or taller.
Motschenbacher scored his 25 points shooting 11 of 19 from the field and 3 of 7 from the 3-point line. Klabo was 5 of 18 from the field, and Cole Hage added 13 points on 5-for-12 shooting while Mitch Larson was 4-for-11 for 12 points to go with a game-high seven assists.
"Usually we settle down in the second half," Klabo said. "We just have so much talent on the offensive end."
The Eagles continued to build their lead in the second half. After the Packers got within four points, the Eagles put together a 13-4 run in the final five minutes.
"Just keeping your head in it really helps a lot," Motschenbacher said. "Taking that loss to Sheyenne was tough, but bouncing back really proves who we are now."
Joe Pistorius ended the game with a team-high 23 points for the Packers. Luke Lennon added 12 points and a game-high 15 rebounds while Abdi Sufi added 11 points and Brett Liebl scored 10.
Packers head coach Adam Palczewski said the problem was a lack of assists. The Eagles totaled 23 assists to the Packers' 17, which was a season low.
"We've got to keep sharing the ball," Palczewski said. "When we don't share the ball, we're not a very good team."
The Eagles (10-1, 9-1 EDC) and Packers (10-1, 9-1) are now tied at the top of the EDC standings with the Eagles now having the tie-breaker. The Packers will be trying to bounce back from their own first loss of the season, but Palczewski said the season isn't won or lost in January.
"There's a lot of good teams in the EDC and (Davies) is one of them," Palczewski said. "We've just got to come back and try to get better."
Halftime: FD 43, WF 37
FD: Motschenbacher 25, Klabo 19, Hage 13, Larson 12, Thom 6, Stenseth 4, Ander-son 4.
WF: Pistorius 23, Lennon 12, Sufi 11, Liebl 10, Holaday 8, Zepeda 6.