Patience paying off
Success behind the 3-point line has largely eluded Rugby High School junior Shea Heidlebaugh early in the season. She didn’t get discouraged despite missing a pair of triples late in the fourth quarter Tuesday.
She kept shooting and hit the biggest shot of the game – a bomb with 31 seconds remaining to give the Panthers a 4-point lead. Senior guard Darby Deckert added a free throw and RHS held on for a 48-43 comeback win over visiting Rolla.
Heidlebaugh scored a team-high 18 points and sophomore forward Breanna Thompson joined her in double figures with 10 points.
“I think the theme of the night would be perseverance,” RHS coach Jen Brossart said. “They didn’t shoot that well, but they gutted it out.”
RHS (5-2 overall) took advantage of 21 Rolla turnovers, disrupting an offense that goes through 6-footer Alli Vandal, who finished with a game-high 22 points.
“Turnovers and not boxing out killed us,” Rolla coach Pat Wilkes said. “They didn’t hit that many first shots, but we gave them second, third and even fourth chances.”
The Bulldogs jumped to an 8-0 lead, but RHS chipped away to trail 11-10 after the first quarter. RHS junior Ashley Schmaltz scored all nine of her points in the second quarter and finally gave the Panthers their first lead with 38 seconds left in the half.
Schmaltz gained confidence off the dribble and went up strong to draw a third foul on Rolla junior starter Anne Brien. Schmaltz converted the 3-point play and scored again with 15 seconds left.
“I just realized that Vandal was gonna block my shots, so I had to drive harder and it would start falling,” Schmaltz said.
Earlier in the quarter she cut hard for a cross-paint bounce pass from freshman forward Madison Uhlenkamp, who had just pulled down her third offensive rebound in as many possessions. The first two included putbacks.
“The weak side was open, so I ran there and I knew she could get the pass there,” Schmaltz said.
The Panthers led 27-23 at the half and Rolla didn’t see the lead again until junior Kelsey Bursinger scored her lone points of the night with 1:40 left in the third. The lead changed three more times with Deckert giving RHS a 37-36 lead with 5:56 left in the game. Thompson blocked a shot later in the quarter and was rewarded when a deflected ball found her in stride for a layup and 44-38 lead.
“I thought Breanna had another nice game,” Brossart said. “She really played solid.”
The Bulldogs hit a 3-pointer after Thompson’s quick bucket and cut the deficit to one point on a fast break with 1:06 left, but Heidlebaugh followed with her big shot to put the game away.
“I had to hit one sooner or later,” Heidlebaugh said. “I was short on the first, long on the second, but I knew if they ducked the screen it would be open. I’ve done that plenty of times in practice and knew I could hit it.”
Deckert finished with five points, and Uhlenkamp had four. Senior ReeAnn Christianson, who pulled down key offensive rebounds, scored two points on free throws.
RHS is back in action against Glenburn at 10 a.m., Monday, at Our Redeemer’s Christian School in Minot.
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