That’s exactly what Martinson and the Fargo Oak Grove boys basketball team did to post a stunning 70-59 win over No. 3-ranked Enderlin during Tuesday’s North Dakota Class B Region I tournament semifinals at the Scheels Center of North Dakota State’s Sanford Health Athletic Complex.
Martinson and fellow guard Connor Asche certainly fulfilled the first part of the strategy. They each drained five 3-pointers.
Oak Grove, which made a school-record 16 3-pointers in a 73-69 win over Bismarck Shiloh Christian on Jan. 9, made 12 treys as a team. They were needed going against the state’s tallest duo of Joe Hurlburt at 6-foot-10 and twin brother Gus at 6-8.
Martinson, a 5-11 senior who has made as many as eight 3-pointers in one game, scored 22 points — 11 more than his average. Asche, a 5-9 senior who has made as many as six in one game, scored 20 points – 14 more than his average.
“Connor and Mason stepped it up tonight. But they have been doing that all year,” said Oak Grove’s 13-year head coach Kyle Card, whose team will aim for the school’s eighth region title since 2000 in Thursday’s 7 p.m. championship game.
It was only 18 days ago when Oak Grove gave Enderlin a scare. Like Tuesday night, the Grovers maintained a lead throughout before falling 73-69.
“We got nervous at the end,” Asche said. “This game was different. We knew this one could be our last game. So we left it all out there.”
Oak Grove built a 35-29 halftime lead after burying seven 3-pointers. Asche drained four of those treys. Trailing 26-24, Oak Grove ended the first half on an 11-3 run in the final two minutes. Asche scored eight of those points with two treys while Trevon Rodriguez drained a deep 3-pointer at the buzzer.
After maintaining a 47-40 lead after three quarters, Oak Grove produced an 8-3 run to build a 57-43 lead with 5 minutes, 16 seconds left of the game.
About the only thing that kept Enderlin’s hopes alive was some missed free throws. At one point in the final quarter, Oak Grove missed 8 of 10 free throws. That helped Enderlin cut the lead to 65-59. Joe Hurlburt saw a 3-pointer rim out that would have made it 66-62. Then in the final 42 seconds, Martinson made all four of his free throws to seal the win.
Joe Hurlburt, a junior who has been offered by seven major Division I colleges, finished the game with 25 points. Gus had 14. Enderlin’s season ends with an 18-4 record.
“We knew the Hurlburts were going to score,” said Card, whose team boosted its record to 14-8 – with five of those losses coming against Top 10-ranked teams. Two other losses came against teams receiving votes in the last Class B state-wide poll.
“Our record really doesn’t show it,” Card said. “But playing a schedule like that pays off for games like this.”
OG 18 35 47 70
E 18 29 40 59
OG: Asche 20, Card 8, Swenson 8, Rodriguez 6, Martinson 22, Dietz 6.
E: Dixson 7, Bartholmay 5, Lemna 8, J. Hurlburt 25, G. Hurlburt 14.