Rugby falls short at Region 6
It was another first round loss for Rugby at the Region 6 girls basketball tournament. Unlike previous trips, though, the outcome was in doubt until the final possession. No. 3 Rugby gave a spirited effort, falling 42-40 to No. 2 Kenmare of District 12 on Feb. 23 at the Minot Auditorium. The Panthers had the ball with four seconds remaining, but sophomore Crystal Hovland’s game-tying jump shot attempt grazed the front rim and stayed out. The Honkers escaped with the victory but had the game extended into overtime, it may have been a different ending, as the Panthers clearly had the momentum in the final minutes. “I credit all our girls for stepping up to the plate,” Rugby coach Jennifer Brossart said. “They went into that game not scared, but determined. Yes, we’re disappointed, but it’s hard not to have a smile on your face after an effort like this. Perhaps this is a sign the program is turning the corner.” Rugby trailed by 11 points with just over six minutes to play but chipped away at the Honkers’ lead, eventually cutting it to a one-point deficit on senior Kristi Black’s basket and free throw with 58 seconds to play. The Panthers were forced to foul six times to get Kenmare to the free throw line. Kenmare’s Jordan Thompson made the front end of the one and one but missed the second. Rugby rebounded it quickly and brought it up court and called a time out to set up one final shot. “We practice those last-second situations three, four times a week, and we got a good shot, it just didn’t drop,” Brossart said. Rugby’s first option was a back-door play for a layup to junior Chelsea Halvorson, but Kenmare sagged back on defense. So the next option was getting Hovland the ball near the basket. Kenmare started quickly, leading 5-0. Rugby would tie the score at seven on Black’s three-point field goal. The Honkers would then score six straight points and finish quarter one leading 15-11. A Hovland basket would cut the lead to 16-15 in the second quarter, forcing Kenmare into a timeout. Rugby would have a few possessions to take the lead but couldn’t get a basket to fall. Later in the quarter, Kristi Black’s three-pointer tied the score at 18, and again the squad had a chance to go ahead, but the shot wouldn’t fall. Heading into the game Brossart believed her squad could play strong defense against the Honkers, and Rugby certainly did, evidenced by giving up just 22 first half points and 42 for the game — well below the Honkers’ season average of 60 points. Rugby also kept Kenmare’s top two players — Katie King and Kendra Miller– below their season average in points. Rugby committed just 14 turnovers for the game and handled the Honkers’ press and trap well. Kenmare held a four-point lead at halftime but couldn’t shake the Panthers in the third quarter. Back-to-back baskets by Mariya Bernhardt and Joclyn Seiler pulled Rugby to within two points, but Kenmare responded on a 9-4 run to take a 35-28 lead after three quarters. It appeared Rugby would finally give in when Kenmare started the quarter with two quick baskets to extend its lead to 11 points. “We committed a few turnovers, which were due to being tired,” Brossart said. “Again, we were forced to have our starters play a lot of minutes.” Brossart called a time out and then watched her tired squad find another gear, tightening the defense and outscoring Kenmare 12-3 in the final five and a half minutes. Unfortunately, it was just not enough. The loss ended the Panthers’ season at 11-11. “It’s a hard way to end the season, especially for our two seniors (Black and Seiler),” Brossart said. “This was a very coachable group of girls, and there is certainly a good future ahead with the players we do have returning.” Black finished her career with a game-high 11 points. Hovland was also in double figures with 10. Mariya Bernhardt had nine; Joclyn Seiler, six; Chelsea Halvorson, three; and Amanda Longie, two.
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