Top-seeded Central Cass rallies past Warwick in 4th quarter to advance to Class B boys semifinals
The undefeated Squirrels outscored the Warriors 20-3 in the final quarter to avoid an upset and earn a quarterfinal win on Thursday.
BISMARCK — For about three and a half quarters, it was anyone’s game as the Central Cass Squirrels and Warwick Warriors sat tied with four minutes left in the final quarter of their Class B basketball quarterfinal Thursday evening at the Bismarck Event Center.
Then the Squirrels started to roll, scoring 14 points in the final 3:40 on their way to a 58-46 win to advance to the Class B semifinals.
All told, the Squirrels outscored the Warriors — who started the quarter with a 43-38 lead — 20-3 in the final quarter.
“It felt great to get that win,” said Squirrels coach Matt Norman. “Credit to the boys and their effort and just making sure they kept their eye on our goal. Obviously, we want to win every game we’re in but it’s not that easy.”
Cole Holzer hit the go-ahead bucket with 3:40 to go, and Carter Vrchota, Eli Buhr and Mason Bosse followed with baskets as the Squirrels widened the gap.
Holzer finished the game with a double-double of 16 points and 19 rebounds. Vrchota finished with 12 points and Bosse 10. Sam Kobbervig added nine more for Cass.
Up until the big Cass fourth quarter, it was a back-and-forth battle with lead changes galore in the first 32 minutes. The Warriors took their final lead of the game at the end of the third with a 12-point run punctuated by three consecutive triples from Elijah Feather Jr.
Feather Jr. finished the game with 19 points while Mark Fasset Jr. scored 10 points and nabbed eight rebounds.
Down entering the final quarter, Norman told the Squirrels to relax.
“We have a bunch of great leaders in this locker room,” he said. “So, the message was to just take a breath and calm down. Let’s remember the system we created together to make sure we can be successful.”
Norman gave kudos to Warwick and its hustle.
“Their effort is just unquestioned,” he said. “We saw them get after it in film. But, just their effort to just be tenacious defensively and then their ability to create second possessions on the rebounding side was pretty fantastic.”
The Warriors are still chasing their first state tournament win and they bring passion to every game, head coach Ryan Brown said.
“This team is composed of competitors that play with heart and play with compassion,” Brown said. “We knew we had a chance to come out and battle and be scrappy. That’s kind of been our goal the last five or six games this postseason. These guys are just a fun group to have.”
Brown said that the pressure of the situation may have gotten to a young team, whose only seniors are Mark Fasset Jr. and Jason Lenoir.
“Once they tied it up, I think we just kind of hit the panic button,” Brown said. “Then we kind of started getting desperate. But, even though you’re at the state tournament and the last three games of the season, you still have something to learn from it. That’s what we’re going to do with this team.”
Central Cass will play Des Lacs-Burlington in the semifinals at 8:15 p.m. Friday. Thompson plays Warwick in the consolation semis at 2:45 p.m. Friday.
Warwick 14 29 43 46
Central Cass 16 27 38 58
Warwick: Feather Jr. 19, Fasset Jr. 10, D. Joramo 6, McKay Jr. 4, Hunt 3, M. Joramo 2, Lenoir 2.
Central Cass: Holzer 16, Vrchota 12, Bosse 10, Kobbervig 9, Buhr 7, Bachmeier 4.