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N.D. state Class B boys basketball tournament: Winning 'ugly'

GRAFTON, N.D. -- At the end of the football regular season last fall, Grafton's offense was on a roll. Sparked by the pass-run threat of quarterback Jake Hanson and the stellar play of receiver Adam Jiskra, the Spoilers scored 26 or more points i...

GRAFTON, N.D. -- At the end of the football regular season last fall, Grafton's offense was on a roll.

Sparked by the pass-run threat of quarterback Jake Hanson and the stellar play of receiver Adam Jiskra, the Spoilers scored 26 or more points in six straight games before being stopped 31-6 by Devils Lake's stingy defense in the first round of the Class AA state playoffs.

"We spread things out in our passing game and had a lot of big-play opportunities," Hanson, an all-state quarterback, said of the high-powered offense.

That style is in stark contrast to the Spoilers' basketball team.

"In basketball, we don't score a lot of points," Hanson said. "We rely on our defense.

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"It doesn't matter, though. We're in the state tournament."

Grafton makes its second state appearance in four seasons when it plays Linton-HMB in the quarterfinals Thursday at Minot. The Spoilers advanced by beating Cavalier in the Region 2 championship. Grafton scored only 40 points in the region final, but limited a veteran Cavalier team that was defending region champion to a season-low 34 points.

The Spoilers have been in that shutdown mode a lot. Grafton's defense allows an average of only 48.8 points a game and has been stronger in the second half of the season. In their last 14 games, the 19-5 Spoilers, who use primarily a halfcourt man-to-man defense, have allowed only four opponents to reach the 50-point mark.

"It's a confidence thing, that all five guys have each others' backs," Spoilers coach Mike Hanson said. "If somebody gets beat, they know somebody else is there to back them up. We play man-to-man, but it's good help defense.

"We have good athletes. They have good work ethics. And they're all very smart. They've figured out what it takes to win."

Winning 'ugly'

One of Mike Hanson's recurring themes about his team -- it wins ugly. He doesn't use the phrase in a derogatory sense.

"It's not always pretty basketball to watch," the Spoilers coach said. "When you shoot 30 percent from the field and score 40 points, like we did in the region final, that's ugly. But we're effective because we make other teams look ugly.

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"It's a good style for us. This isn't a glory team."

As well as the Spoilers play defense, they still have to find points.

They had a solid inside-outside combination in Jake Hanson (15.3 ppg, 39 treys) and 6-3 post player Cody Dravland (13.2 ppg, as well as averages of 10.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocks). Then it's an offense of role players, with Jiskra (5.9 ppg), Nic Lundquist (6.7 ppg, 36 treys with 44.4 percent accuracy on threes) and Thomas Houdek (7.4 ppg) rounding out the starting lineup.

"Jake and Cody are the ones who can get us 20 points on any given night," Mike Hanson said. "Everybody else chips in. We have a lot of guys who can get us 8, 10 points. But we don't count on a lot of offense."

For Grafton, it's a different style than the last time the Spoilers went to state, winning the Class B state title in 2008.

"The two teams are similar in that the defense starts the offense," Mike Hanson said. "But they're two different types of teams. That (2008) team played a faster pace and had more high-profile scorers. They created opportunities. This team takes of whatever opportunities are given to them."

Jake Hanson was an eighth-grader when Grafton won that state tournament. He remembers watching the Spoilers. It became the goal of the young Spoilers then to get back to the state tournament, even with the talented Cavalier team looming in their own region.

Cavalier consistently was a top-10 ranked team in the state poll this season; Grafton was not. But the Spoilers are advancing.

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"I always believed we could beat Cavalier and get to state," Jake Hanson said. "Other people might not have had that opinion. But we thought we were good enough to beat them."

DeVillers reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1128; (800) 477-6572, ext. 128; or send e-mail to gdevillers@gfherald.com .

Grafton at a glance

Record: 19-5, Region 2 champion.

Coach: Mike Hanson.

State tournament opener: The Spoilers play Region 3 champion Linton-HMB at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the state quarterfinals in Minot.

Spoilers' starting lineup: 6-2 jr. G Adam Jiskra (5.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.4 apg, 2.3 spg), 6-0 jr. G Nic Lundquist (6.7 ppg, 2 rpg, 2.1 apg), 6-0 jr. G Jake Hanson (15.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.9 apg), 6-3 sr. F Cody Dravland (13.2 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 2.2 apg, 2.5 spg, 2.4 bpg), 6-3 jr. C Thomas Houdek (7.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg).

Top reserves: Adam Redmann (2.9 ppg), Frankie Contreras (1.4 ppg), Daniel Salazar (1.8 ppg).

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