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Hawley rolls No. 10 Oak Grove in girls basketball

FARGO—The only time Hawley (Minn.) was above .500 in girls basketball last season was after the first game. Last season, it took the Nuggets seven games to get their third win. They followed their third victory by losing 11 of the next 12.

On Tuesday, Dec. 5, the Nuggets moved to 3-0 this season with a 60-35 win over North Dakota Class B's No. 10-ranked Fargo Oak Grove.

"We knew our time would come," Hawley 6-foot-3 sophomore Paige Thompson said of the last two seasons. "We kept working through the ups and downs. It's paying off."

Tuesday was win No. 559 of Hawley coach Bill Gottenborg's career. He got those making decisions like putting his 6-foot-3 sophomore at point guard.

"She's got that vision of the floor and she can go in and post up if she wants to," Gottenborg said of Thompson. "It makes it tough to match up with her because she can play inside and outside."

Thompson finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and two blocks for Hawley. What should scare area teams is the Nuggets are 3-0 without Paige's older sister, Marissa, being fully healthy. The 6-foot-3 senior got on the court for the first time on Tuesday.

"I think the girls have a lot of fight," Gottenborg said. "We're starting to get healthy as a team. It's the first time Marissa got to play tonight. The kids are just battling and working hard and playing hard together."

The third win started pretty slow for the Nuggets. It took Hawley nearly six minutes to get its first field goal Tuesday. Oak Grove didn't create too much separation, only leading 9-3 before Rianna Lilleby nailed a 3-pointer for the Nuggets first points from the field.

"It was hard not doing as well as we thought we would (the last two seasons), but we knew this year was coming," said Lilleby, who finished with a game-high 16 points. "Our team works well together and we understand each other well. We can push each other to our limits."

Hawley made the Grovers pay for not capitalizing on their cold streak. The Nuggets switched to a zone and opened the second quarter with a 9-0 run, forcing five Oak Grove turnovers in the first three minutes of the second.

"We had scouted them. We knew they were going to switch defenses," Oak Grove coach Mike Forsberg said. "They came in a zone, which didn't surprise us. The kids were ready for it, but you got to make some shots. Other than a four-minute stretch where we let them get comfortable in their offense, we played pretty hard on the defensive end."

The first points of the second quarter for the Grovers came on a Kelyn Johnson jumper 4 minutes, 21 seconds into the quarter. Johnson's jumper would be the only points of the second quarter for Oak Grove, as Hawley closed the first half on a 16-0 run.

The Grovers would get no closer than 15 to the Nuggets in the second half. The win was Hawley's eighth straight against Oak Grove, but it has a different feel than the previous season for the Nuggets.

"It's pretty much the same personal we played last year. They're just a year older and a little bit more experienced," Forsberg said.

Half: Hawley 35, Oak Grove 16.

H: Lilleby 16, Tjaden 8, Grani 7, P. Thompson 11, Koenig 3, M. Thompson 2, Rux 7, Karsten 2, Hockett 4.

OG: Bjellum 7, Johnson 3, Roller 6, Niemiller 9, Forness 5, Bogart 5.

Chris Murphy

Chris Murphy is a sports reporter for the Forum. He's covered high school and college sports in Chicago, North Dakota and Minnesota since 2009 and, for some reason, has been given awards for doing so.

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