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Fond du Lac falls in semis after late-season surge

 

March 20, 2020

After losing by 34 points to Nashwauk-Keewatin just three weeks ago, things looked bleak for the Fond du Lac boys basketball team when they took on the Spartans in the Section 7A boys basketball semifinals Wednesday, March 11 in Hibbing.

“I really thought they would overlook us because of that win,” said Earl Otis, head coach of the Ogichidaa. “We played without a couple of starters in that game and I thought we had a good shot at winning if everything fell our way.”

Unfortunately for FDL, things did not fall their way in the first half as they struggled to get the ball to drop and they had some untimely unforced errors. They eventually lost 75-63.

“The first half we got off to a slow start and couldn’t get the ball to drop,” Otis said. “It’s basketball. Sometimes the ball just doesn’t want to bounce your way.”

FDL also was hurt when Conner Barney, one of their top players, found himself in foul trouble with six minutes left to go in the first half.

“That hurt us because Conner is such an important part of what we do,” Otis said. “Conner is our leading scorer and rebounder and he can play such great defense (so) when we lose him, it affects everything.”

At halftime the Ogichidaag trailed the Spartans 41-30, but they bounced back in the second half and tightened things up.

“Things were a little better for us in the second half, but not by much,” Otis said. “The guys fought hard, but we still fell a bit short. They had a couple of kids who gave us some problems and that didn’t help either.”

Jeff Lorenz finished with 30 points to lead the Spartans and Jager Nash added 13. N-K had four players in double-digit scoring.

Barney led FDL with a 23-point effort and Josh Brown recorded 15 points. Also scoring for the Ogichidaag were Jesus Delapez and Jalen Paulson each with eight, six for Rolo Defoe, Devin Porter with four and one point for Simon LaPrairie.

Opposing teams better watch out for the Ogichidaa next year.

“We had a good group of boys this year who worked hard,” Otis said. “We had a slow start to the season and started to get better in the middle of the season. Then we won 10 of our last 13 games of the year, so the guys really improved a lot. I was happy with how hard they worked and the effort they gave every day.”

FDL finished 16-12.

 
 

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