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Shorthanded RHS falls

By Staff | Dec 5, 2014

RHS junior Ashley Schmaltz follows through on a shot. Schmaltz was 9 of 10 from the free-throw line.

LANGDON – The Rugby High School girls basketball team opened its season on the road Tuesday. It proved a difficult road for the Panthers, as host Langdon Area swarmed through a full-court press en route to a 72-43 win.

The Panthers, playing without primary ball handler and last year’s leading scorer Shea Heidlebaugh, committed 30 turnovers. Heidlebaugh was scratched due to a shoulder injury and was expected to see a doctor the following day. LA pounced on the less-experienced backcourt. Senior guard Kaylee Anderson scored 22 points and Madison Hart added 19 to pace the Cardinals.

“We need to get in game shape,” RHS coach Jen Brossart said. “I’m pretty sure our turnovers were close to matching points. We’re better than that.”

The Panthers struggled with an aggressive opposition, which kept RHS within striking distance. LA was whistled for 15 fouls in the first half, but still led 36-26. The Panthers converted 13 of 17 from the free-throw line in the half. RHS senior Darby Deckert led the team with 11 points in the half. Junior Ashley Schmaltz scored all 7 of her first-half points from the line with just one miss. Deckert finished with 16 points to lead RHS and Schmaltz hit two more free throws to finish with 9.

“We just need to calm down,” Deckert said. “There are a lot of players that don’t have a lot of varsity experience and it showed. With more experience that confidence will come.”

The game started as many season-openers do with sloppy play as both teams tried to overcome initial nerves and better transition from one end of the court to another.

Rugby’s last lead of the game was midway through the first quarter at 5-4. The Cardinals went on a 12-4 run to steal momentum. Anderson scored nine of Langdon’s 11 points in the quarter before the Cardinals’ offensive focus shifted to Hart, who hit a pair of 3s and scored 11 points in the second quarter.

LA was saddled with its 10th foul with 4:44 left in the first half, four starters had three fouls early in the third quarter, but the Cardinals continued to pressure RHS in the backcourt.

“I think our bench helps us out,” LA coach Ethen Askvig said. “We can throw in four or five players. At one point, I asked the (bookkeeper) how many have three (fouls). He said all of them.”

LA finished with 26 fouls yet no player fouled out.

The Panthers’ bright point was solid free-throw shooting at 20 of 31. Schmaltz was 9 of 10 and Deckert 5 of 7. All six Panthers to shoot a free throw made at least one.

“It is the first game of the year. There’s no doubt our girls will bounce back,” Brossart said. “Unfortunately, their full-court press really took it to us tonight.”

Heidlebaugh’s status was unclear for the weekend.

“At this point, I’ve got to go with what we got because we’ll be fine,” Brossart said. “We beat good teams without her last year.”

Brossart was encouraged by the playing time for the younger players and saw strong moments from sophomore forward Breanna Thompson and freshman forward Madison Uhlenkamp. Each girl scored five points.

RHS opened the CNDC tournament with a quarterfinal game against St. John on Thursday afternoon in Harvey. The tournament wraps up today.

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