BISMARCK – The rematch is set.
No. 1 ranked Rugby and No. 4-ranked Fargo Oak Grove will play tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the North Dakota Class B boys basketball state semifinals.
A year ago, the Grovers and Panthers needed overtime to decide who would win the 2014 Class B state title.
Both teams return standouts that were featured players in the title game a year ago.
Two of those players are now finalists for the North Dakota Mr. Basketball award – Rugby’s Brad Heidlebaugh and Oak Grove’s Carter Kretchman.
Kretchman is averaging 18.5 points and 6.2 assists per game for the Grovers and received tournament MVP honors a year ago after scoring 36 points in the state championship game. Kretchman was 5-for-7 from beyond the arc and 11-for-11 from the free throw line in the title game a year ago.
Heidlebaugh is an all-around athlete and is playing football next fall at the University of North Dakota.
The 6-foot-4 forward is averaging 20.1 points and 9.3 rebounds per game for the Panthers. Heidlebaugh scored 24 points in the state championship game a year ago.
“That’s a great team we are playing (today) and I’m sure they will be hungry to play us,” Fargo Oak Grove senior guard Christian Adams said. “It should be a great game.”
Both teams looked good Thursday in the quarterfinals and Rugby actually jumped out to a 29-6 lead over Parshall in the first quarter without Heidlebaugh ever taking a shot.
“They looked really good,” Oak Grove head coach Kyle Card said. “It is going to be a battle and is going to be exciting. We will see what happens.”
Adams averages 20.9 points per game and the Panthers will need to at least try to keep him at bay on top of the tough assignment of containing Kretchman. If Adams scored 29 like he did against May-Port-CG on Thursday it could spell disaster for the Panthers.
On the flip side Rugby will need to take advantage of their size against the Grovers. Three of Rugby’s five starters are 6-foot-3 or taller. Oak Grove only has one 6-3 starter in Isaac Olson.
Rugby’s success could be trying to slow the game down and distribute the ball in the paint.
Bottom line is tonight’s game has the potential to be a classic Class B tournament game and the fact that it comes in the semifinals only adds to the intrigue.
Kretchman named Gatorade Player of the Year
Fargo Oak Grove senior point guard Carter Kretchman was named North Dakota’s Gatorade Player of the Year for boys basketball on Friday.
Kretchman, 5-foot-9, averages 18.5 points and 6.2 assists per game for the Grovers. He has helped lead Oak Grove to back-to-back North Dakota Class B state tournament appearances including a state championship in 2014.
Kretchman is a finalist for the North Dakota Mr. Basketball award, which is awarded Saturday following the conclusion of the Class B state championship.
The Grovers standout is now a finalist for the National Gatorade Player of the Year award, which is awarded later this month. Kretchman is undecided on his college choice.
Kretchman’s brother, Tanner, won North Dakota Gatorade Player of the Year honors a year ago playing for Fargo Davies.
Tom Mix is the North Dakota high schools sports reporter at The Forum. He has been working at The Forum since 2009 and has been covering the ND prep sports beat since 2012. Mix can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Mix on Twitter @MixMaster_TGM