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N.D. Region 2 Boys Basketball: Tornadoes headed back to state

Cavalier's Ryan Chrest (21) is fouled by Julian Martinez (12) of Grafton as he drives to the basket in the championship game of the Region 2 boy's basketball tournament Friday in Grand Forks. JOHN STENNES/GRAND FORKS HERALD1 / 3
Cavalier's Trent Karel dives for a loose ball in front of Grafton's Zakari Hernandez (2) in the championship game of the Region 2 boy's basketball tournament in Grand Forks Friday. JOHN STENNES/ GRAND FORKS HERALD2 / 3
Grafton's Julian Martinez (12) is double teamed by Cavalier's Trent Karel (5) and Ryan Chrest (21) as he brings the ball up court against Cavalier's press in the championship game of the Region 2 tournament in Grand Forks Friday. JOHN STENNES/GRAND FORKS HERALD3 / 3

Cavalier has been a team of runs all season. But 19 unanswered points?

“That’s not typical for us, at all,” Tornadoes junior Brock Robbins said.

But that run put Cavalier in command early Friday and the Tornadoes never let up in repeating as champions in North Dakota Class B Region 2 boys high school basketball. Cavalier started the game with a 19-0 run and led by double figures the rest of the way in beating Grafton 63-41 in the title game.

Cavalier will take the No. 3 seed into next week’s Class B state tournament at the Alerus Center. The Tornadoes meet Linton-HMB at 2:45 p.m. Thursday in the quarterfinals.

“You dream about starts like this,” Cavalier coach Bryce Laxdal said. “But you never expect it. We figured it would be a close game. We really coasted off of that start the rest of the way.

“We knew it would be a game of runs. It just happened for us in the first quarter. It makes it easy to coach when the shots are going in like that.”

The Tornadoes established the early lead with a highly efficient offense.

Cavalier scored on 10 of its first 11 possessions. There were three baskets off Grafton turnovers to start the spurt. There were fast-break layups. There were two treys — one which Robbins turned into a 4-point play when he hit the 3-point shot, was fouled and sank the free throw.

The early lead “gave us confidence,” said Robbins, who scored eight of the opening 19 points. “And we kept playing hard.”

Grafton, meanwhile, was 2-for-10 shooting with six turnovers in a first quarter that ended with Cavalier ahead 24-5.

“It was almost like we had six guys out there on defense sometimes,” Laxdal said. “The guys were all over the place, rotating, getting in passing lanes, doing a good job of rebounding.”

Grafton built its lead to 40-18 at halftime and was ahead by 27 in the third. Grafton closed the third quarter on an 11-2 spurt, which pulled the Spoilers within 50-32.

“If we’d had the lead down to 18 at the start of that run, maybe we could have made it close,” Grafton coach Riley Lillemoen said. “But when you’re down that much, it’s tough.

“We were hoping for a run of our own, to at least make them nervous. But it never happened. It seemed like every time we hit a shot, they converted one.”

Deane Bjornson’s 20 points led the Tornadoes. Robbins (15 points, 14 rebounds) and Ryan Chrest (11 points, 10 rebounds) had double doubles.

Center Garek Droog had a strong inside game for Grafton, finishing with 11 points, seven rebounds and eight blocks.