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Eagles boys basketball gets even with win over Mustangs

WEST FARGO—Fargo Davies was on a nine-game win streak before playing West Fargo Sheyenne last time. The top-ranked Eagles had won 30 straight regular-season games before losing to Sheyenne, which had never beaten Davies before, on their home court.

The Eagles bounced back and again put together a nine-game win streak before a rematch with Sheyenne. But the Eagles learned this time around.

Davies relied on defense in a 72-68 Eastern Dakota Conference boys basketball win at No. 4-ranked Sheyenne on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

The Eagles (19-1, 18-1 EDC) have won their last 10 games going into their last regular season game against No. 5-ranked West Fargo on Thursday, Feb. 22, at Davies High School. If they win, the Eagles will clinch the top seed in the East Region tournament in which they will host a quarterfinal game next week.

"They showed us up on our home court so we really needed to come back and show them up on their home court," said Braeton Motschenbacher, who ended with a game-high 23 points on 6-of-13 shooting. "It's kind of like some revenge."

Davies sophomore Cole Hage added 16 points on 4-of-9 shooting with five rebounds, and Harrison Thom chipped in 11 points and five rebounds. Hage said he learned that the Eagles were more than beatable in their last loss against the Mustangs.

"We had a long way to go. We're starting to get there," Hage said. "We're starting to click at the right time."

Motschenbacher scored 10 of the Eagles' first 16 points on their way to an early lead. The Mustangs scored eight unanswered points midway through the first half to take the lead, but the Eagles responded with a 12-1 run on their way to a five-point halftime advantage.

The Eagles outscored the Mustangs 18-9 in the first eight minutes of the second half with an efficient half-court offense. Sheyenne responded with a 23-12 run, including a 3-pointer from Zach Westphal, who scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half, to cut the Davies lead down to 56-52 with less than five minutes to go. Keaton Ballestad, who scored 17 of his 20 points in the second half, made a 3-pointer despite a foul and then scored again after Kemal Hajric grabbed one of his game-high 10 rebounds on the missed free throw to get within two points. Motschenbacher made a tough driving layup to get the lead back to four, and the Eagles made the free throws they needed down the stretch to escape with the win.

The Mustangs (16-4, 15-4) will also host a quarterfinal game next week as at least the No. 3 seed in the region tournament, but have now dropped their last two games after losing at in-city rival West Fargo 98-81 last week.

"Once we gained our confidence, we're a bulldog. We just keep piling those points on," Ballestad said. "We know we're a good team. We're just going to continue to work hard and play ball."

The Eagles, at 84.7 points per game, and the Mustangs, at 83.2 points per game, were the top two offenses in the EDC going into the game. But the Eagles also led the EDC in defense at 56.4 points per game allowed. Their defense held the Mustangs to one of their lowest point totals this season.

In their previous matchup, Sheyenne went 13-for-17 from the 3-point line in the first half en route to a 97-82 win. This time around, the Mustangs shot 23 of 60 (38 percent) from the field and committed 12 turnovers. Hage said this was a good showing for the Eagles' defense.

"I really think we're starting to shine at the right time," Hage said. "We're starting to play more with our hearts, and it's paying off."

Halftime: FD 28, WFS 23.

FD: Motschenbacher 23, Hage 16, Thom 11, Larson 9, Klabo 5, Anderson 4, Stenseth 2, Nemer 2.

WFS: Westphal 20, Ballestad 20, Kuntz 10, Hajric 7, Terhark 6, Charles 5.

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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