BOYS BASKETBALL: Red River advances to semifinal of East Region tournament
Anderson-to-Kroeplin won't ever be a legendary passing duo. For 30 seconds, however, it was a pass-catch killer combination. Matt Anderson passed to Mac Kroeplin for two fast-break layups in the late going Tuesday. Those plays sparked a big finis...
Anderson-to-Kroeplin won't ever be a legendary passing duo. For 30 seconds, however, it was a pass-catch killer combination.
Matt Anderson passed to Mac Kroeplin for two fast-break layups in the late going Tuesday. Those plays sparked a big finish for Grand Forks Red River as it pulled away from visiting Fargo North 71-59 in the North Dakota East Region boys high school basketball tournament quarterfinals.
Red River advances to a 6:30 p.m. semifinal game against West Fargo on Friday in Fargo.
North, the No. 9 seed, hung with top-seeded Red River most of the way. Two Kroeplin free throws with 2:33 remaining gave the Riders a 63-57 lead. Then the senior was the recipient of two Anderson passes on fast breaks to stretch the lead to 10.
"I was looking for anyone,'' Anderson said. "Kroeplin was streaking downcourt, and he's always a good guy to get the ball to. That (10-point) lead was huge for us.''
First Anderson recovered a loose ball near midcourt and lobbed it ahead to Kroeplin for a layup. Twenty-seven seconds later, after Blake Kemnitz made a long outlet pass to Anderson, he flicked a touch pass from the right corner to Kroeplin for another fast-break layup and a 67-57 lead with 1:41 left.
"Those were back breakers,'' North coach Dan Shultis said.
North never led. After trailing 33-24 at halftime, the Spartans rallied to within 45-43 with 11:46 remaining. Red River answered with a 13-4 run to go up 58-47, only to see North pull to within 61-57 with 2:52 remaining after Austen Strom drove the lane for a 3-point play.
"The kids did what we asked,'' Shultis said. "They were gritty. And we were able to eliminate those five- to seven-minute stretches of mistakes that have hurt us all year.''
But Red River held the Spartans to just two points in the final 2:50.
"Our defensive intensity picked up at the end,'' Red River coach Jason Gregory said. "We got our hands in their shooters' faces. We had to get some stops and we played with a little more energy.''
Kroeplin had a big offensive game. He scored 33 points, including four 3-point baskets, to pace a Red River offense that shot 25-of-44 from the field. The senior had nine of Red River's final 10 points. Kemnitz had 10 assists to go with his 13 points.
Strom led North with 16 points. All of those came in the second half. Stephen Espel added 13 points.