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PREP SPORTS: Central, Red River to meet next week

The Mac attack has led Grand Forks Red River to one of the top offenses in the Eastern Dakota Conference. Mack Arvidson averages 19.4 points and Mac Kroeplin 16.3 to pace a Roughriders team ranked second in the EDC with a 70.9 scoring average ent...

The Mac attack has led Grand Forks Red River to one of the top offenses in the Eastern Dakota Conference.

Mack Arvidson averages 19.4 points and Mac Kroeplin 16.3 to pace a Roughriders team ranked second in the EDC with a 70.9 scoring average entering the weekend.

That offense overshadows a Roughriders defense that is the stingiest in the conference.

Red River, which is at Grand Forks Central at 7:30 p.m. Thursday for the first intracity basketball game of the season, is giving up only 52.6 points a game.

"We've done a good job defensively,'' Red River coach Jason Gregory said. "I think that goes unnoticed sometimes. We are probably better known for our offense.''

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Why the effective defense? Gregory attributes it to a number of reasons, including athleticism, the long, lanky physical attributes of the athletes, and the shot-blocking skills of 6-foot-6 junior center John Hoplin and his backup, 6-6 senior Tyler Burris. Hoplin averages 2.7 blocks and Burris 1.3.

"With John or Tyler in the middle, they can intimidate and challenge shots,'' Gregory said. "With their size and reach, the shot blocking seems to come naturally for them. They allow us to be more aggressive, to challenge more on the perimeter. We're challenging teams to take tougher shots.''

Ricky Farroh, meanwhile, usually gets the toughest perimeter defensive assignment.

The Riders have balance on offense to go with Arvidson and Kroeplin. Farroh averages 12 points and Hoplin is at 9.6.

Central, meanwhile, is more reliant on the one-two scoring combination of David Olson and Sean Norton. Olson, a 6-5 junior, is a versatile player -- he's second in the EDC in scoring (23.8 ppg), leads the conference in rebounding (12 rpg) and has made 14 treys. Norton averages 13.9 points. But no other Knight averages more than 6 points a game.

"That's a sign of our shooting woes,'' Central coach Dan Carlson said. "We haven't shot as well as we need to. We have to have other guys step up and start making baskets. A good defensive team will take away one or two good scorers.

"We have some guys who are capable of getting 10-12 points on any night. Guys like (Killian) Gause, (Johnny) McWilliams and (Sam) Hape have done it. They just haven't done it consistently. We'll be better when that starts to happen.''

High-percentage Knights

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Accuracy has become a strength of the Grand Forks Central girls basketball team.

In 6-1 Katelyn Olson and 5-10 Michaela Johnson, Central has the third- and fourth-ranked players in the EDC in shooting accuracy. Olson (12.7 ppg, 8.6 rpg) is at 56.9 percent from the field, while Johnson (6.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg) is at 52.6 percent.

"They understand what is a good, high-percentage shot for them,'' Central coach Brent Hintz said. "Olson plays primarily in the lane. Johnson is in the lane a lot, too, but she'll step out and hit perimeter shots. And our perimeter players have done a good job of getting them the ball.''

The 2-5 Knights have won their last two games. On Thursday, they host Red River at 5:45 p.m. Red River is ranked fourth in the latest Class A state poll.

The balanced Riders have five players averaging more than 7 points a game, led by Ellie Ripplinger (13.5 ppg), Ashley Knecht (13.4 ppg) and Nikki LaDouceur (10 ppg).

"Central has a very tall team,'' Red River coach Kent Ripplinger said. "We have a lot of little guys. They seem to have a few inches in height on us at every position. But we don't worry about being bigger than another team. It isn't going to happen very often for us.

"We'll try to control tempo. We want games to be a little faster. We'll press to try to force the action. We have some quick, athletic girls.''

Wavra a threat

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While Sacred Heart's boys basketball team has struggled to score points, the Eagles have found a consistent offensive threat in Caleb Wavra.

The 5-11 junior guard averages 12 points a game and has been a double-figure scorer in seven of the Eagles' first 12 games. He's accounted for 29 percent of the scoring for the Eagles, who average 41.2 points a game.

"Caleb can hit the three,'' Sacred Heart coach Joe Wasfaret said. "But the big thing for him is his ability to take it to the rack. He's a good finisher and, when he does miss, he's good at rebounding his own shot and getting the putback.

"Caleb wants to score. He's aggressive. The other kids are a little timid offensively. Besides Caleb, we don't have a consistent scorer, and that makes it really tough to have a consistent offense.''

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

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