Ellendale tops Fargo Oak Grove to claim third

Al Christianson/Special to the Minot Daily News Ellendale's Brennen Vance (15) tries to convert a layup during the North Dakota Class B boys basketball state tournament third-place game Saturday at the MSU Dome in Minot.

Through the first half of Saturday night’s third-place contest in the North Dakota State Class B boys basketball state tournament, it seemed the Fargo Oak Grove Grovers were going to shoot themselves to a win.

The Grovers had knocked down 8 of 17 attempts from behind the 3-point arc in the opening half to take a 42-38 lead into intermission.

Oak Grove didn’t make a 3-pointer in the second half, allowing the Cardinals to pull away for a 78-61 win at the Minot State Dome.

“It was a good finish,” Ellendale coach Brian Vance said. “I’m so proud of the guys.”

Oak Grove junior Andrew Christianson was a particular throne in the side of the Cardinals, as he drained 4 of 8 shots from long distance in the opening half.

“We went to no touch No. 10,” Vance said. “(Christianson) doesn’t touch the ball, if he gives it up it’s nose-to-nose.”

The defensive emphasis worked as the Grovers went 0-for-11 from long range in the second half, and finished 8-for-28 from behind the arc.

“The ball wasn’t going in the basket,” Oak Grove coach Kyle Card said. “But to their credit they took Andrew out of the game.”

Early on it seemed as though it would be a tight contest. Ellendale, behind 11-of-17 shooting from the floor, took a 23-21 lead into the second. The Cardinals lead by as many as 10 in the period before the Grovers closed with a 12-4 edge to pull back to within two.

Oak Grove knocked down 5 of 11 shots from behind the 3-point arc, including three from senior Bryce Bakkegard.

The Cardinals were paced by senior Brennen Vance, who scored eight points on 4 of 6 shooting.

In the second, the Grovers used a 14-2 run to build a 35-25 lead. Christianson had two 3-pointers in the run for Oak Grove.

The Cardinals fought back scoring seven of the final eight points of the half to pull back to within 42-38. Ellendale got a pair of baskets from senior Luke Wertz to round out the first half scoring.

The third period was a period of runs.

Ellendale scored the first eight points of the stanza to take a 46-42 lead. The Grovers countered with a 8-0 run of their own to regain a 50-46 lead. The Cardinals then responded with a 7-0 spurt to take a 53-50 lead.

Perhaps, the turning point in the game came as Ellendale junior Lucas Hofer added a layup as time expired to give the Cardinals a 55-51 lead, entering the final period.

“That was huge,” coach Vance said. “Hofer had a great game, too.”

In the final period, the Cardinals outscored Oak Grove 23-10 to pull away for the win.

“They played really good defense,” Card said. “(Hofer) did a really good job on Andrew).”

Christianson finished with 20 points for Oak Grove, while Bakkegard had 16.

Wertz finished with 21 points for Ellendale, while Brennen Vance had 19.

Ellendale also got 20 points from senior Hunter White.

The Ellendale coach was surprised by White’s offensive contributions.

“I wish I knew,” he said. “We have been trying to get him to shoot all season.”

Mark Jones covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @MarkJones27_MDN.