Sam Votava sparks East Grand Forks Senior High in win over Grand Forks Central

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Grand Forks Central center Mason Gravseth (rear) and the Green Wave's Tyler Aamodt (25) battle for the ball in the second half of Thursday's boys basketball game at East Grand Forks Senior High. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Sam Votava’s scoring has been steady and his assists have been up this season.

On Thursday, however, the East Grand Forks Senior High was the finisher for the Green Wave as they handed visiting Grand Forks Central a 71-55 boys basketball defeat.

Votava erupted for a season-high 28 points. That included nine when the Wave pulled away with a game-closing 18-4 run.

“We haven’t had a game where we needed Sam to step up his scoring,’’ Senior High coach Josh Perkerewicz said. “With guys like Nathan (Willett), Julian (Benson), Colton (Dauksavage) and the others, we have scorers all around him. His assist average is up two or three a game.

“But when Sam gets going, he can be unstoppable. When we needed him to score tonight, he took over the game.’’


Central was within 53-50 after a Mason Love 3-point play with 8:51 remaining. But a Benson offensive rebound putback basket got the Wave going on the late run.

Other than a Tyler Aamodt 3-point basket from the baseline, all 18 of the final Wave points were from close range. Votava had four baskets and a free throw in the spurt.

“I think our zone defense mixed (Senior High) up earlier in the game,’’ Central coach Dan Carlson said. “But they eventually figured it out. We went to man-to-man and Votava took over. When he got in the lane, we had a hard time stopping him. We knew he was a tough matchup.’’

Central also struggled offensively at the end of the game.

After Love’s 3-point play, the Knights managed just one field goal the rest of the way.

“That was the key,’’ Carlson said. “They took shots and knocked them down. I thought we had some good looks. But we weren’t hitting them at the end. And all of our kids can hit those shots they were getting when they were open.’’

Senior High had used a 13-2 run late in the first half to boost it to a 41-32 halftime advantage. Willett was the spark plug with seven points -- a tip-in, a dunk on a break and a 3-point basket.

Central, down by as many as 13 early in the second half, rallied to as close as 46-44 before struggling down the stretch.


“I think that was a credit to our defense,’’ Perkerewicz said. “I think our full court pressure defense wore them down. They have some good shooters. But we forced some turnovers, for the most part we were holding them to one shot (per possession) and we were able to get out in transition.’’

Willett and Benson added 11 points each for Senior High. Love finished with 18 points and Ben Hoverson scored 11 to lead Central.

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