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Boys Basketball: Cass Lake-Bena earns share of Northland Conference title with win over Nevis

The Panthers and Tigers finish with 13-1 records in conference play.

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JohnPaul Benson goes in for a layup during Nevis' game against Cass Lake-Bena on Friday, March 4, 2022.
Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

NEVIS – Cass Lake-Bena snapped Nevis’ 15-game winning streak and earned a share of the Northland Conference boys basketball title with a 56-51 victory at the Tiger Arena on Friday, March 4.

Nevis led 38-37 with 13:35 to play before the Panthers closed the game with a 19-13 run to pull off the win in this battle between two of the state’s top Class A teams.

Three-pointers by Joe Houchin and Eddie Kramer gave Nevis a 7-0 lead to start the game. After CL-B tied it at 7-7, a 3-pointer by JohnPaul Benson, layups by Ty Warrington and Kramer, and a basket off a rebound and two layups by Mitchell gave the Tigers a 22-21 lead with 5:15 to play in the first half. Jumpers by Warrington and Devan Lindow made it 30-29 at the 1:48 mark before the Panthers claimed a 34-30 edge at the break. The first half featured three ties and nine lead changes.

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Joe Houchin looks to drive to the basket during Nevis' Northland Conference game against Cass Lake-Bena on Friday, March 4, 2022.
Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

Consecutive three-point plays by Mitchell and Warrington and a layup by Benson gave Nevis the lead, but CL-B jumped in front for good on a layup by Dominic Fairbanks and a 3-pointer by Leroy Fairbanks. That put the Panthers in front 42-38 with 12:08 remaining. Two layups by Kaydin Lee pushed the lead to 49-41 at the 7:38 mark. Layups by Lindow and Warrington, two baskets by Kramer, and two free throws by Houchin cut the margin to 53-51 with 1:02 left before CL-B hit three free throws in the final 38 seconds to secure the win as both teams ended the conference schedule with 13-1 records. Nevis topped the Panthers 64-60 on Feb. 17.

Warrington finished with 13 points, six rebounds and six assists to lead the Tigers. Kramer and Mitchell scored 9 points each with Mitchell (10), Benson (7) and Warrington (6) combining for 23 rebounds. Lindow had three assists and Austin Ahrendt had two assists as Nevis ended the regular season with a 23-3 record. The Tigers entered this game rated No. 5 in the latest state Class A poll.

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Kaydin Lee (18), Dominic Fairbanks (15) and Leroy Fairbanks (15) scored in double figures for the No. 6-rated Panthers, who improved to 23-3 overall.

“We had the opportunity to have a perfect season in the Northland Conference, but we just didn’t play well enough offensively to make that happen. I thought we played well on defense, but our free throw shooting and untimely turnovers really cost us late in the game,” said Nevis head coach Scott Kramer, whose team missed three free throws down the stretch. “They obviously had a game plan coming in, which included trying to limit Eddie to contested shots. They also pressed the majority of the night, which didn't allow us to get into any rhythm offensively. We also were just 10 for 16 from the line. It’s tough to beat a quality team when we don’t convert those types of things.”

CASS LAKE-BENA: K. Lee 8 2-4 18, D. Fairbanks 5 3-4 15, T. Lee 1 0-0 2, L. Fairbanks 5 3-5 15, Brown 1 2-2 4, Urrutia 1 0-0 2. Totals: 21 (FG), 10 for 15 (FT).

NEVIS: Warrington 4 5-7 13, Kramer 4 0-0 9, Houchin 1 3-6 6, Mitchell 4 1-1 9, Benson 3 1-2 8, A. Ahrendt 1 0-0 2, Lindow 2 0-0 4, I. Ahrendt 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 (FG), 10 for 16 (FT).

Halftime: CL-B 41, Nevis 32. Three-pointers: D. Fairbanks 2, L. Fairbanks 2, Kramer 1, Houchin 1, Benson 1. Team fouls: CL-B 15, Nevis 11.

1982 Dawson-Boyd High School graduate
1987 Moorhead State University graduate
Sports reporter for Park Rapids Enterprise since 1987
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