Firebirds boys sports have sure made it exciting, almost too exciting, for their fans at home this week. First, on Tuesday, with less than two minutes to play the boys hockey team made a 26 second come from behind turnaround to beat the Fargo North Spartans, and then last night, Thursday, the boys basketball team came from behind in the second half, and survived a strong run by the West Fargo Packers.
Firebirds boys sports have sure made it exciting, almost too exciting, for their fans at home this week. First, on Tuesday, with less than two minutes to play the boys hockey team made a 26 second come from behind turnaround to beat the Fargo North Spartans, and then last night, Thursday, the boys basketball team came from behind in the second half, and survived a strong run by the West Fargo Packers. Not only did the Firebirds basketball team win, it was a major upset. The Packers came into the game ranked third in Class A, and the Firebirds twelfth. The Packers were ranked ninth overall in the state, the Firebirds forty-second.
The Firebirds took an early 11-1 lead, and extended it 13-3. They were controlling the tempo and the ball, and Grant and Leif Nelson shut the Packers down around the paint. Leif Nelson block three shots in the Firebirds initial run. And then the Firebirds couldn’t hold onto the ball.
Quick hands and some questionable passes gave the Packers the break they needed and they went on a 10-0 run to tie the game. They weren’t absent from the turnover category themselves, giving up the ball on several traveling calls, but the Firebirds didn’t convert their chances and played uphill the rest of the half.
The Firebirds stayed close, tying the game but never advancing, and with just over 1:20 left in the half, the Packers took their lead to four, 30-26. Leif Nelson hit his second three of the half and made it 30-29, but the Firebirds could do no more and the Packers went into halftime up 32-29.
Right out of the gate Grant Nelson tied the game at 32 to begin the second half. The Firebirds defense was strong in the middle and contested shots and forced the Packers to make and miss, but the Firebirds couldn’t hold onto a defensive rebound and Packers maintained their lead on lots of second chances. The Packers were up by two at the 13 minute mark when the Firebirds started a run.
They went on a 16-5 run, going up 55-47 at eight minutes. They quit giving up defensive rebounds and worked the ball around the perimeter. The Packers shut down the paint, but the Firebirds were able to hit jumpers from 15- to 21 feet, and they pulled down much needed offensive rebounds.
The Packers responded again, and the Firebirds lead began teetering. The big play, the backbreaker was defensive.
The Packers poked loose the ball near half-court. The Packers scooped it and prepared for an easy layup. Grant Nelson came flying in from behind and blocked the layup off the glass. Packers Luke Lennon grabbed the loose ball, went up for a jumper at 12 feet, and Leif Nelson blocked that shot. At 3:51 it was a precarious 59-55 Firebirds lead. Leif Nelson tried to drive the paint and made one at the line to make it 60-55. Joey Freilich hit a three with 50 seconds left to make it 63-56. With time running out Leif Nelson found brother Grant at the baseline for the Firebirds final basket, giving them a 65-58 win.
The Packers Luke Lennon led all scorers with 20, teammates Hunter Lyman 16, and Braxton Bruer 13. Grant Nelson led the Firebirds with 18, Leif 17, and Joey Freilich 13. The Packers had 12 turnovers on the night, and the Firebirds 11. The Firebirds went 9-13 from the charity stripe, and the Packers 6-10.