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­­Panthers advance to championship round

By Staff | Feb 27, 2015

Rugby’s Breanna Thompson is met by a pair of Surrey Mustang defenders Monday at the Minot Auditorium.

Tribune Note: The following stories are from Monday and Tuesday nights’ play. The results of Thursday night’s game between the Rugby Panthers and the Bishop-Ryan Lions will be published in next week’s edition of the Tribune, due to Thursday deadline.

The No. 1-seeded Rugby Panthers of District 11 started as strong as they finished.

Rugby’s fourth-quarter offensive barrage and its unrelenting defense guided them past District 12 No. 2-seeded Berthold 56-39 on Tuesday night in the Minot Municipal Auditorium.

Now, the Panthers will head to a 7:30 p.m. Region 6 tournament title tilt against three-time defending champion Bishop Ryan on Thursday.

The Panthers’ defense remained consistent all evening.

Rugby (19-3) yielded very few open looks, especially down low, recording numerous blocks and creating many turnovers by getting hands in passing lanes.

Offensively the Panthers showed patience, using strong ball movement to find open looks.

“I thought we played a complete game from start to finish,” Rugby coach Jennifer Brossart said. “We have protected the paint in the past and we wanted to stay true to that and we did and we were successful.”

Berthold (16-6) didn’t do itself any favors by missing many of the open looks it got. The Bombers struggled to crack the Panthers’ 2-3 zone and a cold shooting night from the outside allowed Rugby to pack the paint even more.

“They knew we wanted to grab rebounds and score on second chances and they took that away,” Berthold coach Kayla Lambrecht said. “We did not shoot well and overall it was a tough and frustrating night for us.”

Both teams got off to a torrid start offensively. Rugby hit its first four shots and five of its first six to build a 15-6 lead midway through the first.

“Last night we came out tight,” Brossart said, “and I thought tonight we would come out a little looser and have some fun, and I told the girls to go out and score it, and we knew we could, and we did.”

Berthold senior forward Madison Erickson, who scored a team-high 17 points, led the Bombers back by going on a personal 5-0 to close the first frame.

Erickson remained hot from the field as she opened the second quarter with a bucket. Both teams cooled off considerably as points were at a premium for the majority of the quarter. The Panthers, sparked by a 3 from juniorguard Shea Heidlebaugh – who finished with a game-high 23 points – went on a 7-0 spurt to build their lead back to nine points. Berthold’s Lanie Kuntz hit a trey to halt the run and Rugby added a bucket before the break to hold a 27-19 advantage.

The third quarter was a back-and-forth affair as both clubs traded baskets for the entire quarter, but the game took a drastic turn in the fourth.

Rugby dominated the game’s final eight minutes. The Panthers opened the frame on a 12-3 run that broke game the game open and gave Rugby a 16-point cushion. Heidlebaugh was instrumental in the Panthers’ surge as she scored in a variety of ways.

Senior forward Allison Foster scored 12 for the Panthers, while senior teammate Darby Deckert added 11 and nine rebounds. Junior forward Cassidy Limke added 10 for Berthold.

The Panthers lost to District 12 champion Ryan 76-38 in the regular season.

“It’s going to take a perfect game to beat them,” Brossart said. “They are good from top to bottom. We are not going to change things and a lot of it Thursday is between the ears for us.”

Berthold will play in the third place game on Thursday against No. 2 seed out of District 11, Velva, at 6 p.m.

“Our assistant coach Scott (Erickson) brought up a good point that only 12 teams in the state end the season on a win,” Lambrecht said. “It’s always better to end on a win than a loss.”

PANTHERS DEFEAT MUSTANGS IN FIRST ROUND

Rugby’s girls basketball team swept the District 11 regular-season and tournament titles this year.

But it took the Panthers a while to display that form Monday night in a 49-39 win over District 12 No. 4-seeded Surrey in the Region 6 tournament quarterfinals.

Rugby (19-3) trailed 9-1 after six minutes. But that was no cause for concern, Panthers coach Jennifer Brossart said.

“No worry, but if we don’t start putting the ball in the hole, it gets to be a worry in a hurry,” she said.

The Panthers missed 9 of 11 shots in the first quarter, but trimmed their deficit to 11-8 by the end of the frame. That provided enough momentum for them to outscore Surrey 14-10 in the second and pull ahead 22-21 at the break.

Junior guard Shea Heidlebaugh drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing to give the Panthers their first lead of the contest at 20-19, bringing the Minot Municipal Auditorium crowd to its feet. After a bucket by the Mustangs on the ensuing possession, Rugby senior forward Allison Foster converted a one-and-one for the halftime tally.

The Panthers shot 17.6 percent in the first half and made 16 of 62 shots (25.8 percent) for the game. Brossart was disappointed with her team’s cold shooting, which yielded their lowest point total this month.

“Very poor shooting performance on our part. Not sure why,” Brossart said. “We’ve played in this venue before. We’ve got to be ready to play (tonight). We can’t shoot like that.”

Rugby’s height became a factor in the second half, particularly in the third quarter, when the Panthers – whose roster boasts 11 players 5-foot-8 or taller – put together a 9-2 run out of the gate. They also outrebounded Surrey 42-32 with a 22-5 edge on the offensive glass.

Only senior Chelsie Diebert (5-10) and classmate Tiffany Klein (5-11) exceed the 5-8 mark for the Mustangs.

“I think our size did matter in the second half,” Brossart said. “They put a lot into their first-half defense and I think we wore them down all in all.”

Diebert scored a game-high 14 points, but no other Mustangs tallied eight points or more.

The 5-8 Heidlebaugh paced Rugby with 13 points, while 6-foot sophomore center Breanna Thompson finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.

“Diebert’s a heck of a ballplayer,” Brossart said. “We let her get hers and we tried to keep everybody else down.”

After grabbing its first double-digit lead at 33-23, Rugby never allowed Surrey to trim its deficit to fewer than six points.

With 13 turnovers to eight assists as part of a lackluster offensive outing, Brossart knows her team’s production will need a jolt moving forward. She’s simply glad her team is doing just that: moving forward.

“You get to this point, a win is a win,” she said. “Winning ugly sometimes is OK. It’s a win, you move on, you move forward. Give credit to Surrey, they disrupted our shots. They made it difficult for us.”

(These articles previously appeared in the Minot Daily News)

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