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Minot puts together comeback, advances to semifinals

West Fargo's Raiden Forrest (2) shoots over Minot's Justin Engg (23) during Thursday's North Dakota Class A state boys basketball tournament in Bismarck. Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribine1 / 2
West Fargo's Raiden Forrest (2) drives to the hoop over Minot's Trevor Banks (21) during Thursday's North Dakota Class A state boys basketball tournament in Bismarck. Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune2 / 2

BISMARCK—In a rematch of last year's state championship game, West Fargo appeared ready to avenge last year's loss. But Minot wouldn't have it.

However, West Fargo head coach Josh Downey said it was a "good game for the stripes."

The Packers, the East Region's No. 3 seed, built up a 13-point lead midway through the second half, but West Region No. 2-seeded Minot closed on a 36-13 run to take a 74-64 North Dakota Class A state tournament quarterfinals win on Thursday, March 9, at the Bismarck Event Center.

Minot advances to the state semifinals to play East Region top-seeded Fargo Davies at 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 10.

"It's just a belief that we're going to continue to fight and scratch and battle," Minot head coach Dean Winczewski said. "Our kids have a toughness and resolve in them that no matter who's playing well or doing things well, we continue to fight and battle and we found a way."

West Fargo was accessed 14 fouls in the second half to Minot's one, giving the Magicians a chance to go 16 of 18 from the free-throw line after halftime. The Packers were also called for two technical fouls.

"It's tough to play five on eight," Downey said. "... You don't miss all those calls and then call them on us. Yeah it's going to piss some guys off."

He declined to comment further.

Winczewski said if there were ever doubt by the Magicians they couldn't come back, they did a good job of hiding it.

After an exchange of leads on small runs early on, the Packers hit four 3-pointers on a 23-10 run over the course of six minutes down the first-half stretch. Minot came back with a 16-4 run to get within a point with just under 10 minutes to go.

Minot claimed its first lead of the second half with about 3:30 to go and made 7 of 8 free throws from that point on its way to victory.

Coming off the bench, Alex Schimke scored 16 of his game-high 22 points going 5 of 7 from the field, 4-for-6 from 3-point range and 8 of 8 from the free-throw line. KyJuan Johnson scored 11 points in the second half for 17 total to go with five assists and eight rebounds. Joe Pistorius scored 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting to lead West Fargo, which was 17 of 31 (54.8 percent) in the first half and 8 of 21 (38.1 percent) in the second. Minot shot 21 of 49 (42.9 percent) for the game.

"Whether I'm starting or coming off the bench, coach instills confidence in us whenever we're on the floor," Schimke said. "I hit my first (shot) and just felt pretty good after that."

WF: Pistorius 16, Forrest 14, Simon 11, Morton 9, Sufi 8, Yeanay 4, Lennon 2.

M: Johnson 17, Albertson 6, Engg 10, Lamoureux 15, Schimke 22, Klabunde 4.

Half: WF 45, M 33.

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. 

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