WAHPETON, N.D.-Fargo Oak Grove head basketball coach Kyle Card had a message for his seniors at halftime on Thursday night: Don't let it be your last game.
Guard TJ Anderson got the drift.
"Step up and play some harder defense," Anderson said.
The Grovers did that and more in the third quarter and went on to defeat Kindred 59-52 in the semifinals of the North Dakota Class B Region 1 boys tournament. The Grovers will play in the title game Friday night at Ed Werre Arena on the North Dakota State College of Science campus for the ninth consecutive year.
"We've been there in the past," Anderson said. "It's a new day tomorrow."
It was a new day in the third quarter.
A key stretch came early in the frame when Anderson made plays all over the place starting with a 3-pointer that gave the Grovers a 27-23 lead. His steal and layup 10 seconds later was followed by a Kindred turnover.
Anderson made it hurt with another 3-pointer and with 6:30 left in the third, the Grovers were in control at 32-23.
"The momentum went to us and that really helped," Anderson said. "That gave us a spark and ultimately I think we won the game because of that spark."
All of that in a matter of 30 seconds in a game that was air tight up until then. The Vikings managed to cut the deficit to three, but the Grovers closed the quarter on a 7-0 to take a 44-34 lead into the fourth.
"The first three minutes of the second half are absolutely crucial," said Kindred head coach Brad Woehl. "We know how quickly and efficiently they can score. They're a battled-tested team."
The Vikings still lurked thanks to the production of 6-foot-7 freshman Gavin Keller. He had 15 of his 18 points in the final two quarters and his reverse layup with 2:51 left cut the Grovers' lead to 51-46.
"They had some foul problems and we wanted to get the ball inside," Woehl said. "We got some good looks."
But Oak Grove's big man, Tyrell Rodriguez, had an answer with two straight inside hoops for a nine-point advantage and the Grovers improved their record to 20-2.
The Grovers were led by guard Andrew Christianson with 23 points. Anderson had 14. They are two of Oak Grove's five seniors who were listening at halftime.
"I challenged some of the seniors in the locker room," said Grovers head coach Kyle Card. "They responded and got us settled down a bit."
Kindred ended its season at 14-9.
Kindred 9 21 34 52
Oak Grove 14 22 44 59
KINDRED: Duchscherer 2 0-0 5, Schaffer 4 0-1 9, A. Freier 1 2-2 4, M. Freier 1 1-2 4, Hall 2 0-0 4, Rustad 3 2-4 8, Keller 8 2-4 18. Totals: 21-49 7-13.
OAK GROVE: Christianson 7 8-12 23, Teigen 1 1-2 3, Anderson 5 2-2 14, Deitz 1 0-0 2, Bolme 2 0-0 4, Rodriguez 2 2-2 6, Swenson 2 3-7 7. Totals: 20-53 16-25.
3-point goals: Duchscherer, Schaffer, M. Freier, Christianson, Anderson 2. Total fouls: Kindred 16, OG 16. Fouled out: Duchscherer. Rebounds: Kindred 33 (Rustad 7); OG 40 (Christianson 7). Assists: Kindred 7 (A. Freier 3); OG 9 (Christianson 3). Turnovers: Kindred 11, OG 9.