Rugby’s title run falls short
Rugby was playing in its first District 11 Tournament title game in 10 years and in the first quarter it showed.
The third-seeded Panthers had to contend with some big-game jitters – missing open shots and turning the ball over several times.
Westhope-Newburg took advantage. The top-seeded Sioux jumped out to a 11-0 run and never trailed en route to 51-36 victory in Drake on Feb. 15. It was W-N’s first district title since 2000 when it defeated Rugby.
“I think our girls were not sure how to handle (being in the title game),’ Rugby coach Jennifer Brossart. “We just didn’t play to the level we are capable of.”
The Panthers settled down after the slow start and its ratched up their defense, forcing W-N to miss shots. Rugby chipped into the Sioux lead with W-N senior standout McKayla Artz on the bench in foul trouble late in the second quarter. Rugby was able to trim the deficit to six at halftime.
However, the Sioux went on a 6-0 run to begin the third quarter and Rugby couldn’t put together any serious run after that.
“Westhope is a seasoned team and knows what it takes to win,’ Brossart said. “They were able to hit shots and we just couldn’t buy a bucket,’ Brossart said. “We didn’t box out…we didn’t rebound.”
W-N caused all sorts of matchup problems in the post for Rugby and collected a number of offensive rebounds, leading to points.
Rugby’s offense wasn’t able to get many opportunities to score inside and it struggled on the perimeter as well. That was in large part to the Sioux’s defense which seemed to contest every shot.
Rugby junior Crystal Hovland, who was guarded tightly by Artz, finished with 12 Senior Chelsea Halvorson added 8.
Defensively, Rugby held Artz to just six points, but Addie Thompson, Sarah Gessner and Kendra Thom combined for 40 for the Sioux.
While the loss was disappointing, the Panthers (14-8) did manage to accomplish one goal at the tournament – reaching the championship round and securing a No. 1 or 2 seed heading into the Region 6 Tournament. “We’re disappointed in our effort, especially playing in front of a big crowd (of supporters). We hope to play much better at regionals.”
Rugby survived a lackluster effort in its tournament opener against No. 6 Towner-Granville-Upham. The Titans hung in the game until the fourth quarter before the Panthers’ offense put the game away, winning 51-40.
In the semifinal, Rugby upset No. 2 Bottineau in double overtime 54-48. It was the Panthers’ first win over the Stars since the 2003 season.
“It wasn’t pretty, but we found a way to survive,’ said Rugby coach Jennifer Brossart. “Obviously, Bottineau didn’t come close to playing their best basketball. We didn’t either.”
Perhaps most impressive about the victory was Rugby had to find a way to pull it out after leading scorer Crystal Hovland fouled out in the first overtime. The Panthers were able to get some points from some other players in the second OT to build a sizable lead which the Stars couldn’t overcome.
W-N cruised to the title game with a 79-41 first round win over No. 8 Sawyer and then defeated No. 4 Velva 67-51 in the semifinals.
Bottineau, Velva advance
Bottineau and Velva have made a habit of meeting in the District 11 Tournament title game, but for a change, both teams were playing to extend their seasons.
Bottineau needed a 48-29 win over No. 5 Dunseith in a region-qualifying game on Feb. 15 to move on to the Region 6 Tournament. The Stars outscored Dunseith 27-10 in the first half.
Velva, the No. 4 seed, defeated No. 6 Towner-Granville-Upham 56-31 in the other region-qualifying game. The Titans played Velva tough in the first quarter where the teams combined for 32 points. Velva, however, increased its four-point lead to 18 by halftime and rolled from there.
The loss ended the Titans season at 7-15. Senior Taylor Stone led the Titans with 11 points. Mattie Schmitt scored 10.
T-G-U lost to No. 3 Rugby in the opening round 50-41, but bounced back to defeat No. 7 Anamoose-Drake 54-24 in loser-out play on Feb. 12.
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