MOORHEAD — Early in the second half of Moorhead's 84-63 boys basketball win over West Fargo on Friday, Moorhead 6-foot-6 senior Maleeck Harden-Hayes stood tall as West Fargo's 6-foot-8 big man Hunter Lyman backed into him in the post.
Harden-Hayes is 165 pounds, but he didn't budge. Lyman got flustered and was called for traveling. Harden-Hayes stared at Lyman, as he clapped multiple times.
"We come prepared and we fear no one," Moorhead forward Drew Hagen said.
Moorhead never trailed Friday, as the Spuds won their seventh game in their last eight, moving to 10-3 on the season. Moorhead won 12 games all of last season and seven the previous two seasons combined.
"We're trying to develop that nightly approach that you come out and you respect everybody and you fear nobody," Moorhead coach Tyler Bormann said. "We're just trying to continue to earn respect. We're coming off a couple of years where we were really down. Our guys have kind of taken that chip-on-their-shoulder approach."
Harden-Hayes put his stamp on the game in the first minute, destroying the rim with an alley-oop slam, thanks to a lob from Belind Alemadi, for Moorhead's first field goal of the game. He made his first five shots, his fifth being another monster dunk to push the lead to 30-18.
"It gets the crowd excited," Harden-Hayes said of his dunks. "That's what I do it for. It really changes the momentum of the game."
He showed no fear, going right at West Fargo's size in the middle in Lyman and 6-foot-5 Luke Lennon, who is committed to the University of North Dakota for football. He also drilled two 3-pointers in the first half.
"It's pretty hard to rebound, but you just gotta tough it out and box out and get the ball," Harden-Hayes said. "I think people don't think I can really rebound against the bigger guys, but I try do my best and get the ball."
Harden-Hayes gets much of the spotlight and deservedly so, seeing as he has offers from North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Minnesota State Moorhead and the University of Sioux Falls. Hagen showed why teams can't sleep on him, as he scored 16 in the first half and a team-high 27 to go along with eight rebounds for the Spuds.
"Those two guys are capable of being the guy, but their relationship among each other and how close they are, it's fun to see them feed off each other," Bormann said. "We're fortunate to have two guys like that who can take over a game at any point in time."
Moorhead hit eight of their 16 attempts from 3-point land in the first half to build a 43-34 lead. West Fargo's Luke Lennon kept the Packers in the game, as he had 19 of his game-high 30 points in the first half.
"It started with us, we just didn't play defense like we needed to play defense," West Fargo coach Adam Palczewski said. "Moorhead is extremely athletic and they're very well coached. They just took it to us from the opening tip until the game was over."
Moorhead opened the second half with a 17-8 run and rolled from there., snapping a four-game winning streak for the Packers (8-3).
"I just think we're starting to figure out that if our weekly investment is really strong that we can come out and we can compete with anyone," Bormann said.
Halftime: Moorhead 43, West Fargo 34
WF: Bruer 5, Miller 7, Birrenkott 8, Lyman 7, Lennon 30, Moton 6.
M: Alemadi 13, Hegg 3, Angotti 3, Hagen 27, Harden-Hayes 23, Walthall 8, Hinsz 5, Garcia 2.