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LaMoure-L-M advances past Thunder

LaMoure-Litchville-Marion’s Drew Thielges drives by Medina-Pingree-Buchanan’s Jeremiah Heupel during District 5 tournament play Friday night in Leal. (John M. Steiner / The Sun)

LEAL, N.D. — They were the hottest team coming into the District 5 boys basketball tournament, and they remained that way on Friday at the brand new Barnes County North gymnasium.

LaMoure-Litchville-Marion’s Brady Thielges dropped in a game-high 21 points and dished out five assists, helping the Loboes get past the Medina-Pingree-Buchanan Thunder 69-62 and earn a date in Monday’s championship game.

Ellendale and E-K-M meet up tonight at 7:30 to decide the other contender for Monday’s 7:30 p.m. title tilt.

“I thought we were a little bit slow in some of our defensive rotations, but that first game of districts is always the toughest one,” L-L-M coach Darren Thielges said, “just because you have all the nerves going into tournament time and stuff like that. We knew it was going to be a dogfight, and it certainly was.”

The two teams traded blows early, especially the Loboes’ Drew Thielges and the Thunder’s Cole Diede. They each hit three 3-pointers in the first half, as L-L-M clung to a two-point, 32-30 lead with just over 2 minutes to play in the opening half.

But that’s when 6-foot-1 junior Anthony Olson stepped up for the Loboes. He was arguably the game-changer in this one, scoring six of his 16 points during a 7-2 run to close out the second period and giving the Loboes a 39-32 lead at the break.

The Thunder fought back to get it to 53-49 at the end of three, but Olson again was the catalyst that changed the momentum for good. He scored the first four points of the fourth as part of a 7-0 run to start the frame.

Brady Thielges capped it with a gorgeous no-look pass to Brady Warken under the bucket, who converted the 3-point play. That put the Loboes up by 11 (60-49) and that was too big a hole for the Thunder to climb out of.

“They made some plays down the stretch, and made free throws and we missed a few free throws,” M-P-B coach Jared Hoff said. “But overall it was much better than the first time we faced them.”

The Thunder fell to L-L-M 82-66 on Feb. 4 in LaMoure.

The Loboes are happy to have Olson back, as he just missed a double-double with nine rebounds. The junior missed three games in December and nearly the entire month of January after committing a team infraction.

The Loboes started the season 4-5, but the team has now won 10 of 11 games, last falling to Enderlin 82-65 on Jan. 21.

“He’s got some athleticism, I mean there’s no doubt about it,” Darren Thielges said of Olson. “The key is to try and get him to not put a whole six weeks of the season into about six minutes of the game. He just plays with a lot of energy, which we like, but sometimes he’s just got to kind of control that energy and understand where he’s moving instead of how hard he’s moving.”

Brady Thielges, the team’s top defender, held the Thunder’s 1,000-point man — senior Nick Blaskowski — to just eight points in the game. Alex Eissinger and Cody Horn paced M-P-B with 16 points each.

The Loboes were outrebounded 46-35, but committed just six turnovers to the Thunder’s 11.

“They’re a very good team. They’ve got a lot of different threats, and that’s kind of the nice thing they’ve got going for them,” Darren Thielges said of the Thunder. “They don’t have to rely on one guy to do all their scoring or anything like that. They move the ball around and spread the floor.”

The Thunder face Barnes County North tonight at 6 p.m. in a loser-out game.

“Nick had a rough night, but I think he’ll bounce back well tomorrow,” Hoff said. “There’s nothing to hang our heads about right now. We played a really good team, but we’re not a bad team ourselves. (Tonight) we just have to leave it on the floor and play for a region spot.”

The Loboes are in search of their fourth consecutive District 5 title. They’re the defending Region 3 champs, and went 22-4 to finish fourth at the state tourney one year ago.

“When it comes down to this time of the year, you’ve got to defend and you’ve got to rebound, and we didn’t do a very good job of that in the first half (tonight).” Thielges said. “But guys battled through it and we were able to pull it out.”

District 5 tournament

At Barnes County North

Friday’s semifinal

No. 2 LaMoure-Litchville-Marion 69, No. 3 Medina-Pingree-Buchanan 62

LaMoure-L-M 20 39 53 69

Medina-P-B 15 32 49 62

LaMoure-L-M — Brady Thielges 21, Anthony Olson 16, Drew Thielges 13, Parker Stemen 10, Brady Warken 9. Totals: 25-63 FG, 14-20 FT, 35 Rebounds, 13 Fouls, 7 Assists, 6 Turnovers, 9 Steals. 3-pointers: 5-12 (D. Thielges 3, Warken 1, B. Thielges 1).

Medina-P-B — Cody Horn 16, Alex Eissinger 16, Cole Diede 13, Wyatt Staloch 9, Nick Blaskowski 8. Totals: 21-60 FG, 13-18 FT, 46 Rebounds, 18 Fouls (Eissinger), 9 Assists, 11 Turnovers, 2 Blocks, 4 Steals.

Records: LaMoure-L-M 14-6; Medina-P-B 10-10.

Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at