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Warriors win Class A Section 8A to advance to State - P19

Edge Northern Freeze 70-67

THIEF RIVER FALLS - In front of almost 2,200 fans at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls, the Red Lake Warriors edged the Northern Freeze 70-67 in one of the most entertaining games this season.

It was exciting right from the beginning, as both teams 22-7 on the season, put on quite a show Friday night and the win for Red Lake will take them to the State Boys Basketball Tournament in Minneapolis. Their last state appearance was in 2003.

The two teams had played back in December in the first round of the Russ Smith Tournament in Thief River Falls, with the Freeze coming out on top in that game 81-77.

That was part of a four-game losing streak for the Warriors, who have won 19 of their last 21 starts.

The Freeze held a 36-34 lead going into halftime, and the Warriors would not lead again until they went out on top 51-49. The game was tied at 60-60 with 3:39 remaining, and the Freeze would hit a pair of free throws to take a 61-60 lead.

This would be their last lead of the night as Red Lake withstood a court length shot by Cole Dahl that bounced off the glass on the other end of the court at the final buzzer.

The spread was never more than six points.

With the Freeze leading midway through the second half 49-45, Red Lake's smothering press produced a 9-0 Red Lake burst that gave them the lead 54-49.

Minutes later still leading 57-53, the Warriors changed gears and went into a clock-eating offense--which was a little different because they always played a fast break style of play.

"We tried to spread it out a little," he said. "We wanted to get their big guys out of the middle. It's not something we normally do. We like to force the ball up the floor and play fast-pace basketball."

Northern Freeze pushed and fought tooth and nail right to the very end.

Dustin Dahl scored from underneath to pull the Freeze within 66-64 with 56.6 seconds remaining, but a free throw by Ryan Holthusen and then a steal and three-point play by Mclain opened up a 70-64 Red Lake lead with 28.6 seconds left.

Cole Dahl knocked down a 3-pointer to keep the Freeze in it at 70-67, but there were just 5.8 seconds on the clock by then.

With 1.7 seconds showing, Red Lake went to the free throw line to clinch it. Two misses and a Cole Dahl rebound led to a length-of-the court baseball-like throw by the sophomore forward that opened eyes by hitting the side of the rim at the buzzer.

It was the third appearance in the section final for the Freeze, who were beaten by Walker-Hackensack-Akeley 53-38 in the 2013 title game.

"Their press hurt us," said Northern Freeze coach Zach Green. "It split us up on offense. It forced us out of our passing lanes and we ended up taking quicker shots than we wanted to."

Red Lake started the game with a 7-2 surge, but could not build on that margin. Caleb Knutson found himself alone under the basket and his lay-up gave the Freeze its first lead of the night, 24-23 with 5:40 remaining in the first half.

Red Lake answered with back-to-back 3-pointers by Mason Kingbird, only to have an 8-0 Northern Freeze run keep the Warriors from breaking away.

Ryan Holthusen, who had scored his 2,000th career point earlier this season at the Russ Smith Tournamant, led Red Lake with 23 points, 7/9 from the free throw line. Freshman Rob Mclain had 11 points and 5 rebounds, and put on quite a defensive show with his 6 blocked shots and 7 steals. For the second game in a row, Trevenn Beaulieu hit four three-point shots. Mason Kingbird finished the night with 10 points, Russell Kingbird netted 6, James Jourdain had 5 points and Jeremy Martin put in 3 and had 4 rebounds.

The Freeze offense was led by Cole Dahl with 20 points, Bevon Binstock 19 and Dustin Dahl 10.

Red Lake was 24-for-56 from the field (43 percent); Northern Freeze went 25-for-59 (42 percent). The Warriors made 14 of 23 free throws; the Freeze had a 10-for-19 night at the line.

A 37-27 Northern Freeze rebound advantage was negated by a 19-11 high figure in the turnover department.

Red Lake will take a 23-7 record into the State Tournament, and they will play in the opening round at Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota campus. in Minneapolis on Thursday, March 13 against Maranatha Christian Academy at 3 PM. The Freeze end their season at 22-8.


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