Pelican rallies for win

Like most of the 2,200 people at Memorial Auditorium on Tuesday night, Pelican Rapids junior forward Nate Shulstad was fuzzy on the details of his game-winning shot.

Like most of the 2,200 people at Memorial Auditorium on Tuesday night, Pelican Rapids junior forward Nate Shulstad was fuzzy on the details of his game-winning shot.

In a high-stakes game rife with offense that bordered on offensive - each team eclipsed its previous season-low by more than 10 points - the end was a barely believable blur.

For the record, Shulstad converted a three-point play on an up-and-under move from the left block with eight seconds left to lift the No. 7-ranked Vikings to a 32-31 victory against No. 8 Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton in the Minnesota Class 2A, Section 8 boys basketball semifinals.

Pelican Rapids trailed by 11 when Taylor Huseby stepped to the free-throw line with 6:41 to play and scored as many points in the fourth quarter as it did in the first three combined. Despite being 5 of 43 from the field through three quarters, with scoreless droughts of 4:46, 5:02 and 7:06, the Vikings completed a three-game sweep of the reigning section champion Rebels and advanced to meet No. 4 Crookston (26-2) in the final at 7 p.m. Friday at Concordia.

"We did everything we set out to do," said D-G-F coach Bob Torgrimson, whose team led by three and had the ball with 17 seconds to go, "except win."


If nothing else, the outcome was a lesson in perseverance.

Pelican Rapids (25-4) got two offensive rebounds on its first possession of the game, two more on its last to set up Shulstad's shot and 13 in between.

For as many shots at the Vikings were missing, and they finished with 25 more field-goal attempts than the Rebels, all those second chances were almost demoralizing.

"When we didn't miss a shot, (D-G-F center Adam) Holte blocked it," Pelican Rapids coach Brad Strand said, "and you could see the shoulders start to drop as the game went on."

The 6-foot-11 Holte, the Rebels career leader in points, rebounds and blocks finished with 16, 12 and eight respectively. But in the fourth quarter, he was limited to four free throws and D-G-F (22-5) stalled in an attempt to idle. The passive strategy allowed Pelican Rapids to tee off like a defensive lineman in a passing down with its 1-3-1 trap.

The Rebels didn't make a field goal -- they had only one official attempt for a total of six in the second half -- and committed seven turnovers, the final one on an offensive foul away from the ball with 17 seconds remaining. The call sent Vikings senior Nick Torkildson to the foul line. He made the first and missed the second, which led to Shulstad's shot and Pelican Rapids' first lead since 6-5.

D-G-F sophomore guard Jake Driscoll was unable to hit on a contested drive at the buzzer. A dejected Cody Hanson punched the ball into the stands and at least two fans threw cups onto the court.

"We thought about the five-minute mark we could hold it the rest of the way in and by rights we should have," said Torgrimson, who didn't want to comment about his future. He recently built a lake home near Ashby, Minn., leading to speculation he may retire after 36 years in coaching.


"All you have to do is make free throws. And we did that, we just turned the ball over way too much."

The whole evening, however memorable, was a bit too much for Shulstad to analyze.

"I don't really even know what I did," he said of the final basket -- his second of the game. "All of a sudden and one and it went in and I'm shooting the game-winning free throw and it went in."

"We kept believing," Strand said. "Maybe it didn't look like it for the first three quarters, but defensively, we kept believing."

Pelican Rapids 6 12 16 32

D-G-F 10 19 26 31

PELICAN RAPIDS: Johnson 1 0-0 2, Torkildson 4 3-4 14, Ripley 2 1-2 5, Huseby 1 4-6 6, Shulstad 2 1-2 5. Totals 10 9-14 32.

D-G-F: Driscoll 2 3-4 8, Hanson 1 0-0 3, Drechsel 1 0-0 2, Green 1 0-0 2, Holte 4 8-11 16. Totals 9 11-15 31.


3-point goals: Torkildson 3, Driscoll, Hanson. Total fouls: PR 14, D-G-F 13. Rebounds: PR 32 (Ripley 7), D-G-F 24 (Holte 12). Assists: PR 6 (Johnson 2), D-G-F 6 (Driscoll 3). Steals: PR 12 (Johnson, Ripley 3), D-G-F 5 (Driscoll 2). Turnovers: PR 8, D-G-F 18.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Terry Vandrovec at (701) 241-5548

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