West Fargo boys bounce back to earn trip to state tournament

FARGO-As Joe Pistorius hits a 3-pointer from the wing, he hangs his head almost in relief and disbelief. He couldn't hit a single shot from that range in the East Region tournament semifinals Friday against crosstown rival West Fargo Sheyenne.Pis...

FARGO-As Joe Pistorius hits a 3-pointer from the wing, he hangs his head almost in relief and disbelief. He couldn't hit a single shot from that range in the East Region tournament semifinals Friday against crosstown rival West Fargo Sheyenne.

Pistorius wasn't going to let that happen again Saturday. He scored a game-high 27 points and led No. 2-seeded West Fargo to a Class A state tournament berth with an 81-75 win over No. 5 seed Fargo South in an East Region boys basketball tournament state-qualifying game.

"We got mentally prepared for this game," Pistorius said. "It's a relief. As a shooter, and they're not going in and you get one in, it feels good. I've got to give the guys credit for recovering from my missed opportunities."

The Packers were on an eight-game winning streak going into the East Region tournament with their last loss in the regular season being to South. After beating Fargo North in the quarterfinals, the Packers fell to Sheyenne in the semifinals to put the Packers' backs against the wall.

Pistorius scored 15 of the Packers' first 31 points, mostly on floaters and midrange jump shots. The Bruins didn't let West Fargo's lead get higher than seven points in the first half, but for every South score, the Packers had a response.

The Packers finished with a 30-18 rebounding advantage which was led by Abdi Sufi, who totaled 21 points and seven rebounds, and Luke Lennon, who ended with a double-double 15 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Those rebounds helped the Packers finish with 16 second-chance points to South's five.

"South is a very good team that pressed us hard and plays hard all the time," Sufi said. "It just ended up with us playing harder. We wanted it more."

Neither team put together much of a run until the final minutes. With South down by 10 with about four minutes left, Siadu Conteh hit a 3-pointer and Kiir Mabor hit a pair of 3-pointers to get the Bruins within a point.

"We just couldn't make the last shots," Conteh said. "When the ball isn't going in, it's just frustrating. We needed one last shot, and it couldn't go down."

The Bruins' problem, Conteh said, was they couldn't stop Pistorius. He scored five points in the final two minutes to put the game away.

"It was a grind, but this is a great team we had to beat to get there," Pistorius said. "I think it gets us ready for the state tournament."

FARGO SOUTH (15-9): Conteh 9 3-4 25, Mabor 8 0-0 18, O'Keeffe 3 2-2 9, Carlson 3 0-0 8, Lahai 2 1-2 7, Weisenberger 3 0-0 6, Johnson 1 0-0 2. Totals 29 6-8 75.

WEST FARGO (21-3): Pistorius 11 3-4 27, Sufi 9 1-2 21, Lennon 6 3-5 15, Zepeda 3 2-2 10, Liebl 2 2-3 6, Mertz 1 0-0 2. Totals 32 11-16 81.

Half: WF 42, FS 35. 3-point goals: Conteh 4, Mabor 2, Carlson 2, Lahai 2, O'Keeffe, Pistorius 2, Sufi 2, Zepeda 2. Total fouls: FS 17, WF 15. Rebounds: FS 18 (Weisenberger 9), WF 30 (Lennon 10). Assists: FS 7 (Mabor 3), WF 12 (Zepeda 4). Turnovers: FS 15, WF 14.