Grand Forks Red River’s struggles at the free-throw line have puzzled Kirby Krefting.
“We’ve really struggled at the line,’’ said Krefting, the Red River High School boys basketball coach. “As a team we’re shooting around 65 percent. That’s not good, especially considering the good perimeter shooters we have.
“But we hit the free throws when we needed them tonight.’’
Red River was 6-of-8 at the line in the final 1:21 as the Roughriders pulled away to a 64-57 win Tuesday at Grand Forks Central High School.
The Riders closed the game on an 8-1 run. Bryce Enerson broke a 56-56 tie with 1:45 remaining when he drove the lane and hit a short jumper. After that, it was all free throws for the Riders.
Kobe Springer made it 60-56 when he swished both ends of a bonus. Springer came in cold off the bench after Paine Parks was fouled and had to leave the game because of a cut on his knee. “Kobe’s probably our most consistent free-throw shooter,’’ Krefting said. “At that point, those were huge shots.’’
Brady Dvorak hit two more free throws before Mason Love hit a free throw with 16 seconds left to snap the 6-0 Riders run. Cole Benson finished scoring with two free throws.
The 8-1 Red River finish followed a 9-2 Central run. A Parker Brown 3-pointer pulled the Knights even at 54. Benson and Ben Hoverson exchanged field goals for the 56-56 tie.
“We were hoping for a little bigger run,’’ Central coach Dan Carlson said of the Knights’ 9-2 spurt. “We didn’t make enough plays down the stretch.’’
A key possession came when Central was within 60-56. The Knights missed an open 3-point shot as well as a putback attempt. Central got another offensive rebound, but wound up turning the ball over.
“We make the three and we’re within one,’’ Carlson said. “We get some momentum. But both teams were really scrapping at the end. That makes it tough. And we had some other decent looks we didn’t make.
“They (Riders) have been in a lot of close games. They’ve found ways to win a lot of those games. They’ve been really good at it.’’
In a game that was close throughout, Red River’s 54-47 lead was the biggest advantage either team held up to that point.
Red River closed the first half on an 8-0 run to take a 41-36 halftime lead and never trailed in the second half.
“I don’t think we ever felt we had a comfortable lead, not the way Central was shooting the ball,’’ Krefting said. “They shot well. Mason Love had an incredible shooting game.’’
Love had a game-high 19 points. The junior hit five 3-point shots. “He’s worked a ton on his shooting and it’s paid off,’’ Carlson said.
Hoverson added 13 points and Mason Gravseth 10 for the 2-5 Knights.
Red River, 6-3, was led by Springer and Enerson with 14 points each, with Dvorak adding 11.