PREP SPORTS: Grafton, North Star ready for rematch

After Grafton defeated Warroad on Friday, Spoilers boys basketball coach Mike Hanson told his players it could be awhile before they ran into another backcourt that good.

After Grafton defeated Warroad on Friday, Spoilers boys basketball coach Mike Hanson told his players it could be awhile before they ran into another backcourt that good.

"And Jake Hanson said, 'Not until Thursday,' '' Hanson said.

That's the day of the rematch. Grafton travels to Cando to play North Star. The last time the two teams met was last March, when North Star beat the Spoilers 63-55 in the championship game of the North Dakota Class B boys high school basketball tournament.

Most of the Spoilers picked up a state title of their own last month, when Grafton claimed the North Dakota Class AA football championship. But that alone isn't satisfaction.

"Nobody said a word about the North Star game until after we played Warroad,'' Mike Hanson said. "It's still just a non-conference game. But there's more to it than that. These kids want to prove they can beat North Star. I think it's a measuring stick for them, to see where they're at.


"I think they're still hungry for more. They were so close last year to the championship they could taste it. The kids felt they had the potential to beat them, but they couldn't quite get it done. These are competitive kids, which is great. They want to beat the best.''

Both teams are 4-0. Both are high in the state rankings, North Star in the second spot and Grafton fourth in last week's Class B state poll. Both have rosters full of multi-sport athletes; for example, while Grafton won the AA state football title this fall, North Star was 9-man runner-up.

And both have a lot of players back from last season's state title game, in which Grafton became the first team the undefeated Bearcats didn't beat by at least 16 points all season.

Grafton has four starters back in Jake Hanson (16.3 ppg), Nic Lundquist (16.3 ppg), Adam Jiskra (10 ppg) and Thomas Houdek (8 ppg). Zach Burns (6 ppg) rounds out a lineup in which all five players have had at least one double-figure scoring game.

North Star has been led by its junior backcourt duo of Jake Hagler (24 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 7.5 apg, 3.5 spg) and Daniel Grande (19.5 ppg, 6 rpg, 4.8 spg, 3 apg). Josh Haugen (6 ppg, 4 rpg) also was a starter last season, with Colton Braun (6.8 ppg, 6 rpg), Brooks Larson (4.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg) and Alex Weston (7.5 ppg, 5 rpg) now getting big minutes.

While there are a lot of familiar names, both teams graduated a lot of size. "We're both a little different,'' said North Star coach Jeff Hagler, whose team has won 31 straight games. "We're not as big, but we're maybe a little quicker. We're trying to be a little more aggressive on defense, trying to extend the court.''

In other area games to watch this week:

Girls hockey


n Warroad at Thief River Falls, Tuesday: Warroad, the defending state champion, is ranked second in the latest Class A poll with an offense led by Lisa Marvin and Kayla Gardner. Thief River Falls is ranked fifth in the state and appears to be Warroad's top challenger in Section 8A.

Boys basketball

n Kittson County Central at Badger-Greenbush-Middle River, Friday: These are expected to be two of the title contenders in Minnesota's West Subsection 8A. Kittson County Central has the one-two scoring punch of Zach Rynning and Derek Coffield. The Gators, who have been slowed in the early going with some injury problems, rely more on balance.

Girls basketball

n Grafton at Langdon, Saturday: Two of the top teams in northeast North Dakota meet. Both have veteran lineups back from a year ago, when Grafton finished third in the Region 2 tournament and Langdon was fourth in the Region 4 tournament.


n Big Bear tournament, Friday-Saturday at Cass Lake: This is generally regarded as the top wrestling tournament in northwest Minnesota during the regular season.

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

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