All-metro lineup helps Class A boys avoid sweep in Lions All-Star basketball series
FARGO—West Fargo's Joe Pistorius drove down the lane and drew defensive attention. Almost seemingly ready for that, the Class A senior athlete of the year passed it off to West Fargo Sheyenne's Kemal Hajric for a wide open layup. Even if they were rivals for their entire high school careers, the Class A starting five for the Lions All-Star basketball series had chemistry right away.
And Class A wasn't about to let Class B sweep the series. After losing by 19 points on Monday in Bismarck, Class A played with a fire and cruised to a 95-86 victory on Tuesday at the Fargo Civic Center.
"It's better playing with them than against them, that's all I know," said Pistorius, who tied for a Class A-high 15 points. "We're all east guys, and we all know how to play. We play run-and-gun and that's how we tried to play. I don't think they were ready for it."
After the Class B girls swept Class A in the two-game series and the Class B boys won its first game, Class B had a chance to sweep all four games for the first time since the girls series was introduced in 1981.
But the Class A team wasn't ready to be swept. The starting five for the Class A team was Pistorius, University of Minnesota Crookston commit Zach Westphal and Hajric, both of Sheyenne, and North Dakota State football commit Jacob Kava and Concordia College football commit Cam Saville, both of Fargo Shanley. The Packers, Deacons and Mustangs played each other to physical, hard-fought and overtime thrillers before but looked like they had been playing together for years.
Tom Kirchoffner, who was coaching the game after he coached the Mustangs to their first state championship appearance this season, said he was happy he didn't have to coach against the likes of Saville, Kava and Pistorius this time around. Kirchoffner said an up-tempo style like Eastern Dakota Conference teams play with was more to Class A's advantage with that starting five, which combined for 47 points.
"Tonight, we just played loose and got up and down," Kirchoffner said. "We had guys who wanted to get going, and that's what you have to do with these guys."
Class A got off to a 13-2 run in the first few minutes of the game and kept expanding the lead to 40-24 with six minutes remaining in the first half. Class B worked the lead down before Wyatt Hanson of Stanley hit back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game at 46, capping a 22-6 run going into halftime. Hanson finished with a game-high 16 points while Fargo Oak Grove's Andrew Christianson supplied 12 points for Class B.
"Class B, they say we're not as big, but we went out there and competed with heart," Christianson said. "Class A is a great team, but just growing close with these guys we went out there and battled each game."
Chandler Albertson of Minot fueled Class A with 15 points and helped build back up a double-digit lead late in the second half. Class A made its free throws and held on to the lead for the rest of the way.
"When you put athletes together and guys who know how to play, it really doesn't matter who you play with," Hajric said. "You just have to play the game the right way. We had a lot of selfless guys who did that."
Halftime: Class A 46, Class B 46
Class A: C. Steckler 3, Albertson 15, Westphal 8, O'Keefe 3, Pistorius 15, Saville 6, T. Steckler 7, Hajric 9, Kava 9, Schafer 13, Wolf 7.
Class B: Christianson 12, Foertsch 9, Bickett 7, McGillis 11, Prouty 9, Rodin 6, Vetter 7, Ferebee 2, Andes 7, Hanson 16.