COLFAX, N.D. — Enderlin came back from a 16-point halftime deficit to defeat Richland 68-62 in a game with major implications on the North Dakota Class B Region 1 boys basketball standings on Friday at Richland High School.
The Eagles trailed 39-26 at halftime and 55-44 at the end of the third quarter, but ran off 18 straight points early in the fourth quarter to take the lead. They outscored the Colts 45-23 in the second half.
“That was unreal,” Enderlin 6-foot-10 sophomore Joe Hurlburt said. “We came out battling and went to war with each other.”
Dawson Lemna got a steal and made a circus layup with his back to the basket to push Enderlin ahead 59-57 with 3 minutes. It was the Eagles’ first lead since 1-0. Alijah Dixon made a transition 3 to make it 62-57 before Richland got back on the board.
Dixon, a 5-foot-10 freshman guard, started the run with a 3, then blocked as hot and assisted a Dawson Lemna layup to kick off the run.
“We were making 3s and getting stops,” said Hurlburt, who finished with 23 points. “(Richland guard) Cole (Myers) was going crazy making 3s in the first half and we managed to slow him down in the second half and we started making shots.”
Joe Hurlburt led the Eagles with 16 points in the second half and made four free throws down the stretch to seal the game. He went to the line with a 64-62 lead with 16 seconds to go. He drained both free throws to make it a two-possession game. And after a defensive stop by Enderlin, he drew another foul and went back to the line and again made both free throws to lock it up.
“It’s a lot of pressure, but I felt like I knew they were going in,” Hurlburt said. “I just had a gut feeling like I have to close this out. I love those situations.”
Richland’s full-court pressure and athletic perimeter defense made life tough on the Eagles in the first half. The Colts didn’t allow them to get the ball inside to Joe Hurlburt, his 6-8 brother Gus Hurlburt, or 6-5 freshman Carson Bartholomay. After Joe Hurlburt made a 3 to tie it up at 23 with 6 minutes to go in the second quarter, the Eagles didn’t score again for the rest of the first half as the Colts went on a 16-0 run.
“We didn’t get inside as much as we wanted to,” Enderlin coach Calvin Kraft said. “We had to settle for inside shots. Hopefully if we play them again, we’ll get inside a little better. They’re pesky. They’re quick, they’re athletic, they’re in your grill. It’s not just like an easy pass in. They make it tough. That’s their bread and butter.”
Carter Lingen kicked off the long Richland run with a jumper. Myers made a pullup jumper from the top of the key over 6-5 Bartholomay to make it 31-23. Gavin Reiland intercepted a pass and made a fast-break layup to make it 33-23. Colten Mickelson made a putback to make it 37-23 and Reiland drew a foul as time ran out in the first half and sunk both free throws.
Myers scored 19 points in the first half and finished with a game-high 30.
“They came out on fire,” Kraft said. “Myers is a heck of a player. We got their best shot in the first half, but we answered in the second.”
The win puts Enderlin in the drivers’ seat for the top seed in Region 1 and a first-round bye in the region tournament. They are in second place in region play, trailing only undefeated Kindred, but close the season with a game against the Vikings that could decide the region’s regular-season title.
The Colts are still in the running at 8-2 in region play as is Northern Cass at 7-1. Richland plays at Northern Cass next Friday.
“We control our own destiny now, depending on what Northern Cass does, and the goal is to get a bye,” Kraft said. “This will help immensely. We still have three region games to go and this will help put us in a drivers’ seat.”
ENDERLIN: G. Hurlburt 4, J. Hurlburt 23, Lemna 18, Dixon 11, Bartholomay 9.
RICHLAND: Anderson 1, Myers 30, Lingen 11, Evanson 2, Reiland 10, Mickelson 4, Thompson 2.