Marauders get it done on Senior Night

OBSERVER Photo by Ron Szot Andre Lockett puts up a heavily contested floater in Tuesday night’s 69-66, win over Maple Grove.

Dunkirk’s seniors went out in style.

The Dunkirk Marauders defeated Maple Grove, 69-66, in a thrilling conclusion to the regular season of Division 1 West boys basketball.

Dunkirk (13-6, 10-2) began the night with Senior Night celebrations on the court for the nine seniors and cheerleaders.

Dunkirk came out strong as it went on a 11-4 run, prompting Maple Grove coach Rob Collver to call a timeout.

Maple Grove (8-11, 4-8) scored the next two buckets to pull within two points, but Dunkirk finished the quarter on a 10-2 run to take a 21-22 lead into the second frame.

OBSERVER Photo by Ron Szot Darnell Butts of Dunkirk attempts to lay the ball in finger-roll style over the Red Dragon defense.

Dunkirk and Maple Grove traded blows in the opening minutes of the second quarter, and Dunkirk led 28-18 close to halfway through the second period. That’s when it all changed.

Maple Grove ended the second quarter on a 14-0 run, highlighted by a three from Peter Auer to take the lead, to head into halftime with a 32-28 advantage over Dunkirk. At the break, Dunkirk’s leading scorers on the year — Devaun Farnham and Tyrese Kristan-Johnson — combined for only 11 points.

“Our main scorers didn’t touch the ball enough,” said Dunkirk coach Andrew Krenzer. “That was really one of our biggest problems.”

The third quarter was an entirely different story.

Farnham and Kristan-Johnson combined for every point in the first seven minutes of the quarter. However, with one minute remaining in the third quarter, Dunkirk only led by one point.

At that moment, Darnell Butts hit the biggest shot of the game for Dunkirk. Butts banked in a three from the top of the key that rattled around the rim and finally fell to end the third quarter with a four-point advantage for the Marauders.

“That was really what sparked us,” said Krenzer.

Dunkirk went up by seven at the start of the fourth quarter, but Maple Grove wouldn’t go away. The Marauders’ lead was trimmed to two points with 4:24 remaining, and was back to two points once again with only 1:46 remaining.

With the Marauders leading 62-58 with only a minute to go, once again it was Butts who hit the big shot. Butts drilled another three, giving the Marauders a seven-point lead in the final minute.

Still, Maple Grove would not go away.

Auer hit another three to cut it to four points, and Maple Grove got the ball back after a rebound and headed up court. Then, another senior, Felix Garcia, came up with a crucial steal and got fouled.

“One of the kids I’m most proud of tonight is Felix,” said Krenzer. “He made a couple of really tough mistakes down the stretch … but he made up for it. He really manned-up. I’m really proud of him.”

With a five-point lead, it seemed like Dunkirk could finally breathe.

Not so much.

Carson Crist hit another three for Maple Grove, which cut the Dunkirk lead to two points with 7.9 seconds remaining.

On the ensuing possession, Kristan-Johnson was fouled and split the two free-throws for a three point lead with 3.6 seconds left.

Maple Grove had one final chance, but a last-second heave from well beyond half-court fell short and Dunkirk could finally celebrate once again.

Kristan-Johnson finished with a game-high 22 points, along with six rebounds. Farnham finished with 19 points, but more impressively, Farnham finished with a triple-double. His 12 assists and 10 rebounds were both a team-high.

“I’m really proud of the seniors,” said Krenzer. “But what really stands out is the 12 assists from Farnham.”

Maple Grove was led by Truman Purslow with 18 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. Auer added 16 points, while Crist had 12.

“We’ve got really good offensive players,” said Collver. “We just found them tonight.”

Dunkirk likely secures a home playoff game with the victory. The Marauders were seventh in the standings in Class B1 coming into the game, and the one remaining game on the season, Saturday in a rescheduled rematch with Hutch-Tech, will not count towards the playoff seeding.

Maple Grove, who came into the game eighth in Class C, may be playing its best heading into the playoffs, as well.

“This says we’re ready for playoffs,” said Collver. “We’ve been focusing on the big picture … and now we’re ready for a deep playoff run. These guys are pumped for it.”

Krenzer feels that Maple Grove is ready, as well.

“They’re going to be a tough team in the playoffs,” said Krenzer.

Both teams will learn its fate on Saturday morning, in the playoff seeding meeting at 9:00am.

Twitter: @bradencarmen