Lions boys basketball: Olson's free throws seal the deal for Class B after big second half
The Kindred star finished with 20 points in the final game of his high school career while Enderlin's Joe Hurlburt and Beulah's Trey Brandt also finished in double digits.
FARGO — Paul Olson is breathing a huge sigh of relief Tuesday night after sinking two free throws with fewer than two seconds remaining in the second game of the North Dakota Lions All-Star Basketball Games series.
That's because had the Kindred star missed one or both from the charity stripe, Nathan Fedorchak's prayer at the buzzer from 3/4ths court would've mattered.
Instead, thanks to Olson's free throws, Class B held on to earn a 95-94 win over Class A at Davies High School, avenging a 118-108 defeat in Game 1 of the series in Bismarck on Monday.
The two teams split the two-game series for the third year in a row.
Fedorchak's shot was just the final chapter in what was a barn burner throughout the second half. Unfortunately for the Bismarck St. Mary's guard, it meant nothing more than a wowed gym.
Fortunately for Olson, that's all it meant.
"I didn't expect that one to go in," Olson said. "Those free throws — just staying calm is all it is. I've played big enough games where I know how to handle it a lot better than others, but that was a good team win all the way around. Everyone played well and hard and we got the dub."
Olson led Class B with 20 points while Enderlin's Joe Hurlburt added 16 and Beulah's Trey Brandt added 15.
Class B head coach Rick Smith of Four Winds/Minnewaukan said the biggest difference between Monday's and Tuesday's games was finally being able to adapt to Class A's firepower.
"The biggest thing is not giving up easy baskets," Smith said. "(Class A) just fed on that (in Bismarck). They just fed on our turnovers and turned them into easy baskets. We had to control that (Tuesday). Live and die on the three-point shot. (Monday) night they were making a ton, tonight they were missing their share which got us easy rebounds.
"It always takes these guys no matter what. It takes Class B a whole game to adapt to Class A's physicality, and that's just the way it is no matter how much you preach to them. It takes a whole game for them to adjust and tonight we played through their waves, played through their runs, we had runs of our own and we just held fort."
Class B led 10-9 early and didn't see the lead again until just under 16 minutes to play in the second half when Grafton forward William Jiskra laid one in off the glass to make it 58-56.
The score was 49-45 in favor of Class A at the half, which led by as many as 11 points in the first half.
Smith's squad turned it around in the final 20 minutes.
"We couldn't quite get over the hump and then once we got over the hump, it seemed like we kind of took off," Smith said. "You're going against the best in Class A and there's some good players there, but we had some kids that had some high honors all year who came through at the end with Joe and Trey and Paul and they were just really huge for us down the stretch."
Leading Class A was West Fargo Sheyenne forward Mike Nhial with 21 points. Fedorchak finished with 14 while Bismarck forward Treyson Eaglestaff added 12 and Jamestown guard Adam Kallenbach 11.
For Nhial, it's not the way he wanted to end his high school career, but the Northern State-bound Mustangs star had plenty of fun in a game which featured nine lead changes in the second half.
"We had fun and that's all you can really ask for," Nhial said. "I'm going to remember this and all the guys that I played with. It's a difference experience and a really good team."
Nhial added that what he'll miss the most about high school hoops is the people he got to play with and meet along the way.
"I think just the people," he said. "Basketball is basketball, so it's going to be the same when I get to college, but you're not going to be around the same people so I'm going to carry that around."