Rugby escapes in OT
GRAND FORKS – It took Tanner Bernhardt an extra period to finally hit his first shot of the game, but a 3-pointer to open overtime was all it took to spark Rugby.
Bernhardt was 0-for-11 from long range and scoreless before drilling a 3 from the right wing to give the No. 1 seed Panthers the emotional lift he typically provides earlier in games.
Rugby (26-0) held on for a 64-58 overtime win over unseeded New Town, the Region 8 champion, in the third quarterfinal game Thursday at the Class B state tournament at the Alerus Center.
“Every shooter has his slump, I guess, but I just kept my head up and kept shooting and one finally fell in,” Bernhardt said.
Rugby will play North Star in the semifinals tonight at 8:30 p.m. tonight.
The Panthers trailed for the first time all season in the fourth quarter and the Eagles presented something Rugby didn’t see all year – two massive post players. The brothers Grady – twin juniors Daryl and Elijah – stand 6-foot-3 and 6-4, respectively.
“We’ve played against the Volson brothers from Drake,” Rugby coach Mike Santjer said, “but to have two guys that are that big and that athletic inside, that rebound really hard, it’s pretty tough. We haven’t seen that and actually we haven’t seen guards with that length.”
Rugby junior forward Brad Heidlebaugh still managed to score 22 points, much of the total coming on strong takes from the block. Heidlebaugh set the school record for points in a season with 623, passing Paul Presthus’ mark of 614. He also had a game-high 13 rebounds.
Heidlebaugh’s first field goal came on a 3-pointer early in the first quarter to give the Panthers an 8-5 lead.
The Eagles (20-3) held most of the momentum in the first half and took a 15-14 lead after the first thanks to a circus shot from senior guard Joe Baker. The rangy guard heaved a buzzer-beating 3 from the opposite arc.
A key difference in the first half was 3-point shooting. The Eagles connected on 5 of 9 attempts and the Panthers made 1 of 13. Rugby senior Chris Hamilton and Bernhardt combined to shoot 0-for-10 from long range in the half.
“Normally, Tanner at least gets going a little bit earlier,” Santjer said. “He might miss a few at the beginning, but never like that. Luckily, we were able to pick up some defensive stops when we needed and get Jaedon Haman going on the inside a little bit. He had an incredible game for us.”
New Town sophomore reserve Payton White Owl hit two timely triples in the first half. The first came midway through the second quarter and broke a 22-22 tie. The second was a deep straight-on shot with six seconds left in the half. Heidlebaugh missed a long 3 at the buzzer and the Eagles took a 30-25 lead into the break.
“A lot of teams have trouble with the two bigs and we went from there and tried to take advantage of that,” New Town coach Chuck Hunter said.
Rugby took its first lead since early in the second quarter on a layup by Haman with 20 seconds left in the third. Haman finished with 16 points and junior Zach Miller had 18 for the Panthers.
After pulling down an offensive rebound, Haman hit a reverse layup to tie the game at 49-49 with 2:10 remaining in the fourth. New Town leading scorer Daryl Grady (14 points) answered with a quick shot, but fouled out with 39 seconds left. Miller converted a 1-and-1 bonus to force overtime.
New Town senior guard Wayne Fox fouled out shortly after Bernhardt’s 3-pointer and Heidlebaugh extended the overtime lead to seven on a 3-point play with 1:53 left.
“They took it to us tonight, but we grinded through it and pulled out a victory,” Heidlebaugh said.
Fargo-Oak Grove 67, Flasher 65
Fargo-Oak Grove won the tournament’s opening game over Flasher. The Region 1 champions were led by Christian Adams’ 20 points and Carter Kretchman added 17.
The Grovers (24-2) led 34-19 at the half, but the Bulldogs rallied behind Zack Schmidt’s game-high 29 points. Flasher, the Region 5 champion, missed a buzzer-beater at the end of the game.
Oak Grove’s Coulton Dangerfield snagged a game-high 15 rebounds to go with seven points. The Grovers play Linton-HMB in the first semifinal at 6:30 p.m. tonight. Flasher (20-5) plays Cavalier in the losers bracket at 1 p.m.
Linton-HMB 53, Cavalier 51
Linton-HMB trailed 47-41 after three quarters, but rallied against No. 3 seed Cavalier for the first upset of the tournament. The Lions, Region 3 champions, struggled from the free-throw line with five misses in the fourth quarter, but Johnathon Purintun connected for his first of six attempts in the closing seconds for the team’s final point.
Cavalier, the Region 2 champion, had a final look on a 3-pointer for the win, but the shot fell short.
Linton-HMB (21-4) was led by Andrew Small, who hit five 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 21 points. Ryan Schneider and Purintun chipped in 13 apiece. Cavalier (23-2) was led by Brock Robbins’ 17 points and Dean Bjornson had 12.