Pelican Viking boys notch playoff opener win—with seconds remaining on the clock

Pelican’s Ian Fahje, foreground, shot a three-point shot to seal the Vikings’ victory over Red Lake—with under two seconds remaining in the game. Background, fellow Pelican senior, Hunter Williams.

The Pelican Rapids boys basketball team kicked off the section 8AA playoffs on Thursday night when they headed to Red Lake. 

It was the #8 vs. #9 matchup in the section, and the game lived up to the seeds, as a tight game ensued. The game came down to the final seconds—with the Vikes winning on a three-point shot by Ian Fahje, virtually at the buzzer. 

The visiting Vikings came out with some strong plays as they jumped out to an 8-2 lead, forcing a timeout from Red Lake. The Warriors evened it up at 14 apiece before another 10-2 run from Pelican Rapids increased the lead to 24-16. 

Red Lake would control the remainder of the first half with a 21-6 run to take a 37-30 lead, but freshman Miguel Torres hit a three with seconds left in the half to bring the Vikings within 37-33 at the half. Pelican Rapids scored the first six points of the second half and increased their lead to 58-51 with five minutes to go in the game. 

A furious rally by the Warriors in the final minutes tied the game up at 59 with under two minutes to go. Red Lake’s Ken Fox hit a jumper in the lane to give them a 61-59 lead and forced the Vikings to foul on their next defensive possession, which sent the Warriors to the free throw line with thirty seconds left in the game. A miss on the front end of the bonus gave Pelican an opportunity, and senior Ian Fahje capitalized on it with a jumper in the lane to tie the score at 61-61 with eight seconds left. 

After a timeout, Red Lake inbounded the ball and went the length of the floor when Gerald Kingbird Jr. knocked down a driving layup to take the lead back at 63-61 with 2.1 seconds left.    

The Vikings had one last chance out of the timeout, and Luke Sjolie’s full-court pass found Fahje, who took one dribble and nailed a three-point shot at the buzzer and allowed Pelican Rapids to escape with a 64-63 dramatic opening round victory.

Pelican’s Treyon Benson, foreground, putting pressure on Red Lake during the March 9 opening round playoff contest—at Red Lake.

“This was just an outstanding game to be a part of as both teams played so hard and never gave up until the final buzzer sounded,” head coach John Gullingsrud stated. “Red Lake has some talented offensive players that kept them in the game when we seemingly had control midway through both halves. Our guys also showed a lot of grit for hanging in there when they would go on their scoring runs and still giving us a chance to win it in the end. Obviously, for Ian to hit those two shots late in the game in that situation and atmosphere was just tremendous. It was a special moment for our team for sure.”

Three Vikings reached double figures in scoring, led by Charlie Larson’s 17 points. 

Fahje had 14 on the night, and Hunter Williams had 12 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists. Treyvon Benson had a team-high 9 rebounds to go with his 4 assists, while Brady Petznick also brought in 7 rebounds. Luke Sjolie had 5 assists, and Larson came away with 4 steals. 

Pelican Rapids made 27-52 (52%) of their shots overall and 4-10 (40%) of their threes. They outrebounded Red Lake 36-24.

With the win, Pelican Rapids moved on to the quarterfinal round of section 8AA play and traveled to face the #1 overall seed in the section Thief River Falls. 

The game was originally scheduled for Saturday, March 11, but due to the weather was moved to Monday, March 13.