FARGO-For the past couple seasons, Fargo South has started the basketball season on losing streaks. Those losing streaks have translated into tough seasons for the Bruins lately. Now starting the season on the right foot, South head coach Mike Hendrickson believes the Bruins could turn the program in the right direction.
After a sluggish start for South, the Bruins pulled away in the second half to take a 73-66 Eastern Dakota Conference victory over West Fargo Sheyenne on Tuesday, Dec. 5, at South High School.
After the game, Hendrickson said he was going to emphasize the mistakes the Bruins had made. But he decided to put that aside for the night and let the Bruins celebrate.
"To get this first win is just great for this group of kids," Hendrickson said. "Now it's their turn. Let's put that stuff behind us and move ahead."
The Mustangs took an early lead when Zach Westphal scored Sheyenne's first 11 points and 15 of Sheyenne's first 21 points on a variety of drives, jump shots and fast breaks.
Westphal, after scoring 25 points in Sheyenne's season opening victory against Bismarck St. Mary's on Saturday, finished the game shooting 8-for-10 from the field and 12 of 14 from the free-throw line for 29 points.
"They came out with more energy," Westphal said. "They strung some stops together and we didn't. We always have to have energy."
Hendrickson said South showed early season jitters in their first game of the season and the Mustangs played more loose having already played last week. Kiir Mabor, who led South with 18 points, felt he and the team weren't ready to start the game.
However, the Bruins went into halftime on a 12-6 run to take a one-point lead at the break. South played effective defense in the second half, despite allowing the Mustangs (1-1, 0-1 EDC) to get in the bonus early.
South (1-0, 1-0) got up by as much as seven points with 5 minutes remaining after a 15-8 run after halftime. The Mustangs scored seven unanswered points to get within one over the next 2 minutes, but South kept composed on defense and aggressive on offense to pull away.
"I could've came in here after the game and found everything we did wrong," Hendrickson said. "Instead, let's just celebrate a little bit and let the kids enjoy it."
Mabor was tasked with guarding Westphal and slowed him down to nine points in the second half. Mabor finished the game with a team-high 18 points on 6 of 12 shooting to go with a pair of steals. Siadu Conteh made 3 of 6 shots including a pair of 3-pointers for 14 points, Sam O'Keeffe added 13 points on 6 of 11 shooting and Kain Carlson totaled 10 points on 4 of 7 shooting to give South four double-digit scorers.
"We just came out with energy," Mabor said. "We just wanted it more. We're hungry this year. We're striving for great things this year."
Halftime: FS 34, WFS 33
WFS: Ballestad 3, Westphal 29, Berg 8, Charles 3, Terhark 8, Hoffner 6, Hajric 9.
FS: O'Keeffe 13, Carlson 10, Mabor 18, Johnson 3, Conteh 14, Weisenberger 3, Petia 6, Warren 2, Bennington 4.