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West Fargo Sheyenne tops Mandan to reach Class A boys hoops semifinals

Michael Nhial drops 29 points as Mustangs advance to semifinals for third consecutive year

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West Fargo Sheyenne's Michael Nhial eyes the basket against Mandan's Rustin Medenwald during the North Dakota state boys high school basketball tournament at the Bismarck Event Center on Thursday, March 10, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

BISMARCK — The West Fargo Sheyenne boys basketball team is in the North Dakota Class A boys state semifinals for a third consecutive season.

The East No. 2 seed Mustangs topped West No. 3 seed Mandan 61-48 at the Bismarck Event Center on Thursday behind 29 points from senior standout Michael Nhial.

Sheyenne (20-5) will play West No. 1 seed Minot (23-2) in a semifinal contest Friday at 6:30 p.m. back at the Bismarck Event Center. Mandan (13-13) will play in the consolation semifinals against Fargo North (16-10) at noon.

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West Fargo Sheyenne's Zander Newton battles for position between Mandan's Aaron Grubb and Tahrye Frank during the North Dakota state boys high school basketball tournament at the Bismarck Event Center on Thursday, March 10, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

“It was just kind of getting a feel of the game,” said Sheyenne head coach Tom Kirchoffner. “It was just kind of slow right away and (Mandan) jumped out I think 18-10. Once we kind of figured out how they were playing us a little bit and our guys adjusted to the arena, we were fine.”

Nhial hit a 2-point bucket just before the half to give the Mustangs a 33-23 advantage at the break.

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“I’m proud of our guys for making that run at the end of the first half to get us a 10-point lead into the locker room,” Kirchoffner said. “And then the second half was more or less just working the glass. We were even or I think 20-19 on rebounds and we outrebounded them by quite a bit in that second half, so that was the difference in the game right there.”

Sheyenne did win the board battle 21-9 in the second half.

The Mustangs put the game away in the final 18 minutes. In what was a 46-37 game, Sheyenne rattled off three consecutive triples, the first two coming off the hands of sophomore guard Caleb Duerr and the third coming from Nhial to quickly go on a 9-1 run, making it 55-38.

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West Fargo Sheyenne's Kaleb Larson shoots against Mandan's Tahrye Frank and Luke Darras during the North Dakota state boys high school basketball tournament at the Bismarck Event Center on Thursday, March 10, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

Sheyenne finished the night 27-of-56 shooting for 48%. The Braves finished 20-of-54 shooting for 37%.

At the free-throw line, the Mustangs went 2 of 5 while Mandan was 2 of 8.

Finishing behind Nhial in scoring was Duerr with 11 points. Senior guard Kaleb Larson added eight points while senior forward Dominic Dosmann finished with seven. Senior forward Zander Newton added six points.

Mandan was led by junior forward Tahrye Frank with 11 points. Senior guard Luke Darras and senior forward Aaron Grubb added nine points each.

Final rebounds were 41-28 in favor of the Mustangs. Nhial, Newton and Larson collected six each for Sheyenne. Darras picked up eight boards for Mandan.

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Nhial said he believes his team will match up well with the Magicians in Friday’s semifinal.

“I don’t think we’re going to do anything special,” Nhial said of preparing for Minot. “We just need to play our game. They’re going to have to defend against us. They play to their game and we play to our game.

“It’s just making sure we don’t underestimate any team and playing with fire every day.”

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West Fargo Sheyenne's James Hagen drives past Mandan's Karsyn Jablonski during the North Dakota state boys high school basketball tournament at the Bismarck Event Center on Thursday, March 10, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

Halftime: West Fargo Sheyenne 33, Mandan 23

MAN: Frank 11, Darras 9, Grubb 9, Jablonski 6, Gerding 6, Burgum 4, Huettl 2, Mudingay 1.

WFS: Nhial 29, Duerr 11, Larson 8, Dosmann 7, Newton 6.

Ryan Spitza joined The Forum in December 2021 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Marquette, Mich., a city of 20,000 on the southern shore of Lake Superior. He majored in multimedia journalism and minored in public relations at Northern Michigan University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in May 2019. While attending college, Spitza gained real-world experience covering high school and college athletics for both The Mining Journal and The North Wind.

Spitza can be reached at 701-451-5613 or rspitza@forumcomm.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryspitza.
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