Motschenbacher lifts Fargo Davies to East Region semifinal win over West Fargo
Motschenbacher scores 34 points to help seal state tournament berth and a spot in the East Region championship game
WEST FARGO — Fargo Davies head coach Bart Manson could tell before his team even took the court that he was about to see a big performance from Ian Motschenbacher.
The 6-foot junior guard proved his coach’s intuition right as he scored 34 points in the Eagles’ 89-77 victory over West Fargo in the East Region boys basketball tournament semifinals on Thursday at West Fargo High School.
Davies clinched a spot in the North Dakota Class A state tournament and will play West Fargo Sheyenne in the East Region championship on Saturday at the Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Complex.
“Ian was key. He didn’t play well (in the quarterfinal win over Fargo North) on Tuesday and he knew it,” Manson said. “I could tell in the locker room that he was dialed in. I knew we were going to get a good Ian tonight. He was certainly just fabulous and fantastic.”
Motschenbacher fueled the Eagles’ comeback from an early hole in the first half and helped them build and sustain a lead throughout the rest of the game. When the Packers managed to put together runs and get back into the game, Motschenbacher made shots to turn the momentum back toward the Eagles.
The junior guard scored 10 straight Davies points in the middle of a 15-2 run that took his team from down 16-12 to leading 27-18. They kept rolling after the run and went into the break with a 41-26 lead.
On three separate occasions in the second half, the Packers pulled within 10 and Motschenbacher closed the door on the comeback.
Brett Limke made a 3 to make it 54-44 about five minutes into the second half and Motschenbacher answered with back-to-back buckets. Another Limke 3 made it 62-53 and Motschenbacher had the answer again. Packers forward Carter Birrenkott answered with a basket and Motschenbacher scored again to make it 64-55 with about eight minutes to go.
“I knew we had to come out strong if we wanted to win,” Motschenbacher said. “We couldn’t let ourselves dig a hole and try to come back. We got all those points right away and I wanted to make sure we could keep the lead.”
Davies senior forward Owen Hektner worked hard on the defensive end to limit the Packers’ dynamic forward Birrenkott and keep him from taking over. Birrenkott came into the game averaging an Eastern Dakota Conference best 23.3 points per game and 9.9 rebounds.
Hektner held him to six points in the first half while the Eagles built up their lead. He eventually got rolling in the second half and finished with 21 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the deficit.
“People forget that Owen is a great defender,” Manson said. “He is big and he’s thick and he just did a good job. He didn’t give Birrenkott many open spaces to get shots. We knew eventually Birrenkott was going to get himself going. He’s way too good of a player not to and he did.”
Hektner was also the Eagles’ second-leading scorer, putting up 21 points of his own. He scored 13 of his team’s final 14 points in the first half to send them into halftime with a 15-point lead. He added eight assists, six rebounds, two blocks and a steal.
“When he got going, we got going,” Manson said. “It’s key for us when Owen’s making shots, we become difficult to guard.”
West Fargo’s Limke scored 19 points all in the second half as the Packers tried to mount a comeback. He made four 3s and at one point he scored eight-straight WF points.
Latrel Davis notched a double-double for the Eagles with 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Ray Brown scored 11 points with six rebounds and three assists. Brown was 2-for-3 from 3 and 3-for-4 from the free-throw line.
“Every time they made a mini run, we came back with our own mini run,” Manson said. “We had some guys who made some big shots for us. Ray Brown made some, Owen picked it up, We got good minutes out of Jacob Prudhomme. Latrel didn’t score like he has scored in the past, but he had 10 points tonight and he was fabulous defensively.”
After starting the season 2-3, the Eagles have won 17 of their last 18 games. Their lone loss in that stretch was to West Fargo Sheyenne, which they will meet on Saturday in the region championship game. The Mustangs beat the Eagles twice this season 75-64 on Dec. 18 and 84-80 on Feb. 2.
“We started out this season not being quite where we wanted to be,” Motschenbacher said. “We started out not playing very well as a team and now we have come together and shown that when we do play as a team, we are a pretty good team.”
Half: Fargo Davies 41, West Fargo 26
FD: Motschenbacher 34, Hektner 21, Davis 14, Brown 11, Sauvageau 6, Klabo 2, Witte 1.
WF: Birrenkott 21, Hegerle 20, Limke 19, Pease 13, Nelson 4.