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Cardinals down Imperials late

Ellendale's Walker Bruns, left, and Austin Molan reach for a rebound Tuesday during the Region 3 tournament at the Jamestown Civic Center. John M. Steiner / The Sun

Ellendale's Hunter Thorpe drained the biggest shots of his young career Tuesday afternoon at the Jamestown Civic Center.

The sophomore hit a 3-pointer to end a 5-0 run by Napoleon-Gackle-Streeter with 3 minutes, 10 seconds remaining in the quarterfinals of the Region 3 boys basketball tournament. The shot put the Cardinals back in front by two possessions, and they'd hang on for a 62-58 victory over the Imperials.

Ellendale will now face Carrington in the first semifinal on Thursday starting at 6 p.m.

"It's his biggest game," said Cardinals coach Brian Vance about Thorpe. "He's never played in the regionals before. He's a good shooter and we need him to shoot the basketball—he's a confident shooter—we just need to get him to shoot a little more often."

Thorpe scored 17 points—second-highest on the team—and hit 4 of 8 from downtown, including his wide-open trey late to hand Ellendale a 53-49 lead.

"The guys trust him," Vance said. "They drive and kick, that's our offense. He can nail them and he spends a lot of time in the gym for a reason."

Lucas Hofer doubled up the Cardinals lead late in the first quarter with a runner to take a 14-7 lead after eight minutes played.

N-G-S used a 10-2 run midway through the second quarter to get back within one. Ethan Kleppe hit a 3-pointer with 18 ticks remaining to tie the game at 24-24 heading into the locker room.

"They're athletic, physical and our guys were playing a little bit passive. We played passive pretty much the whole game," Vance said. "We can't do that against good basketball teams, which Napoleon is. We got shooters and they weren't shooting when they had the shots."

Lucas Hofer scored 13 of his team-high 22 points in the third quarter, including three triples. Hofer broke a 43-43 tie with a 3-pointer just before the third quarter ended.

"He's our leader and has been all year," Vance said about Hofer. "Great kid, spends a lot of time in the gym and the weight room. Everything he does he's worked for."

The Imperials made a late-game push, including Jamison Fettig scoring 11 of his 24 points in the final frame. But the Cardinals used free throws and offensive rebounding to close the game out.

Sophomore Ethan Kleppe scored 13 points for the Imperials—all coming in the second quarter—including 5 of 6 from the floor and a perfect 3 of 3 from downtown.

N-G-S will only graduate William Kleppe and Pacey Feist. The duo combined for 17 points in the loss.

"We are young and we have a lot of experience," said N-G-S coach Brett Gross. "We're going to lose two seniors, but I'm excited about the kids coming up. We have some young experienced kids that got to see the floor through districts and even today. Playing time is the best thing for these kids."

Ellendale will turn its attention to Carrington after winning its game 61-34 in the Region 3 opener. The northern Cardinals took the regular season matchup 58-37.

"We have some work to do," Vance said. "We need to rebound and we had too many turnovers tonight. All of those things are fixable but they gotta do it."

Ellendale 62, Napoleon-G-S 58.

ELL 14 24 46 62

NGS 7 24 43 58

ELL—Lucas Hofer 22, Hunter Thorpe 17, Austin Molan 15, Nathan Peterson 5, Cole Goehring 3. Totals: 22-45 FG, 7-19 3-PT, 11-14 FT, 29 Rebounds (Hofer 10), 18 Turnovers.

NGS—Jamison Fettig 24, Ethan Kleppe 13, William Kleppe 9, Pacey Feist 8, Tyler Long 4. Totals: 24-55 FG, 8-25 3-PT, 2-6 FT, 26 Rebounds (Feist 11), 13 Turnovers.

Records: ELL 17-6. NGS 10-12.

Mitchell Johnson

Hometown: Enumclaw, WA; College: Central Washington University

(360) 918-1853