FARGO-West Fargo Sheyenne boys basketball coach Tom Kirchoffner calls Mustangs big man Kemal Hajric the heart and soul of the team. It was only fitting, with the game already well in hand, the senior captain sprinted for a steal and saved the ball from going out bounds on the final possession for Fargo Davies.
For the final 20 seconds, Hajric jumped around with pure joy before letting out one final scream, as the Mustangs handed the No. 1-ranked Eagles their first loss of the season 97-82.
"The energy was through the roof," said Hajric, who finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds. "They made their run, but we understand that basketball games are full of runs. When somebody makes a run you have to weather that storm, and I thought we did a great job of keeping our composure and staying together. We had a lot of fun playing tonight."
The Mustangs (8-2) refused to accept anyone calling the win an upset. Sure, Davies had won 30 straight games in the regular season, Sheyenne was 0-7 in program history against the Eagles and it was against the undefeated, top-ranked team in the state on its home court.
But an upset?
"No. Not in any way," Hajric said. "People are going to talk and say this was the No. 1 team and it's an upset. To us, with the players we got, the athletes we got top to bottom, I think we're the best team in the state."
Sheyenne had nine 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes of the game. The Mustangs opened with a 19-9 run and never looked back. Every Davies run was answered with a backbreaking three. Braeton Motschenbacher cut the Sheyenne lead to 24-20 with a jumper, but Elijah Charles and Christian Kuntz answered with back-to-back 3-pointers. Cole Hage split two free throws to cut the Sheyenne lead to 35-29 and Kuntz sank another 3-pointer.
"When a team shoots that well you're going to have trouble winning that game," Davies coach Bart Manson said. "All credit to them. They came out, they were ready to play, they knocked down shots."
The Mustangs hit 13 of their 17 shots from 3-point land in the first half to take a 53-39 lead into halftime. Kirchoffner told his teams the rims at Davies were like "hula hoops." The Mustangs danced with them.
"They have soft rims here, and we were told to shoot, so we let it fly," said Kuntz, who finished with a game-high 27 points, including five 3-pointers. "Great atmosphere. It's fun to play in games like this. It was competitive, everybody wants to win."
Sheyenne opened up a 57-41 lead early in the second half thanks to four points in the paint from Hajric, but Davies answered with a 16-5 run. Hajric snapped that run with a putback down low.
"He's huge," Kirchoffner said. "He just gets everybody going. He's one of our captains and we expect him to lead this team. To beat Davies for the first time on their home court when they're the No. 1 team is pretty special."
Harrison Thom hit a 3-pointer to cut the Sheyenne lead to 75-71 with just over seven minutes remaining, but the Mustangs shut the door with a 14-4 run, half of the points from the run coming from Zach Westphal.
"Anybody is beatable," Hajric said. "We can win any game if we play to our potential."
Half: WFS 53, FD 39
WFS: Kuntz 27, Westphal 16, Berg 15, Charles 6, Hajric 14, Ballestad 14, Terhark 5.
FD: Motschenbacher 20, Larson 8, Klabo 14, Hage 11, Anderson 10, Satter 5, Stenseth 9, Thom 5.