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Panthers take eighth at State

By Staff | Mar 11, 2016

The Panther bench celebrates a 20-2 run during the Fairmount-Campbell-Tintah/Rugby game.

Defense feeds the Rugby High School girls’ basketball team’s offense.

But other teams’ defenses at the State Class B Tournament in Grand Forks, particularly the fifth place Fairmount-Campbell-Tintah Rebels and the second-half change-up of the champion Shiloh Christian Skyhawks, proved to be a challenge for the no. 4-seed Panthers, who ended the tournament and season with an 8th-place finish.

In the opening round the Panthers had a 10-point lead in the second quarter against the Skyhawks.

Panthers’ junior center Breanna Thompson was able to penetrate the paint on three possessions as did sophomore forward Madison Uhlenkamp, allowing the Panthers to take a 8-2 lead in two minutes of play. Then Skyhawks’ sophomore guard Brittan Grubb was able to knock down a bucket. Panthers’ senior guard Shea Heidlebaugh responded soon after with a huge three. Heidlebaugh and classmate Ashley Schmaltz would later be the sole scorers in the second quarter.

However the Skyhawks were able to force two turnovers with less than a minute to play in the half, and senior guard Krista Ulmer was able to capitalize on both of them for buckets.

“We were playing man-to-man, we were setting screens, we weren’t playing very good defense against that screen. We had to switch it up,” Skyhawks’ head coach Daryl Bearstail said.

The Skyhawks then switched to a 2-3 zone defense in the second half.

“That was kind of the difference there,” Bearstail said. “We were able to create offense from our defense with the press and 2-3.”

Panthers’ head coach Jen Brossart said: “We prepared for that, so I don’t know why our perimeter players and our ball handlers were star-struck when they saw that because it’s something we worked on all week. But it’s a big stage, and they get caught up in the moment and obviously they got rattled. And it’s something that hurt us, they scored 16 points off our turnovers and you can’t win ball games with that.”

The Skyhawks snatched the lead away from the Panthers with 2:28 remaining in the third quarter and went on a 7-2 run to end it. The Skyhawks then won the game, 47-40, sending the Panthers out of title contention.

REBELS DEFEAT PANTHERS, 52-44

The next afternoon, the Rebels were able to get a 19-6 lead over the Panthers early.

“We were trying to double up on Heidlebaugh and we were trying to make sure we kept a body on #20 (Breanna Thompson) just to keep her out of the paint,” said Rebels’ head coach Brenda Dahlgren.

Heidlebaugh and Thompson, who ended the previous night with 18 and 16 points, respectively, were held to just two apiece in the first quarter.

“We came out flat,” Brossart said. “Obviously we were still worried about that game last night in that first quarter. We called a timeout in the second quarter and said: ‘You can do this one of two ways: we can end this now and it can get ugly, or we can turn it around and make this a game.’ They decided they were going to make it a game.”

After a bucket from Rebels’ junior forward Allison Grefsrud, Heidlebaugh then led the Panthers a 20-2 run that went into the second half, and allowed them to briefly take the lead.

“Not too many teams in our region have thrown a diamond and 1 at us,” Brossart said. “It’s not too complicated of a defense but if you don’t get in your positions it’s a tough defense to go against. I think in once the 2nd half we adjusted to it we did just fine.”

Dahlgren said: “They did go on a nice run against us, they’re a good team. But I think our press really hurt them in the end.”

A late bucket from sophomore forward Tristin Lunde, as well as a 2-for-2 trip to the charity stripe for Thompson chipped the Rebels’ final lead to just 8 points to end the game, 52-44.

PANTHERS FALL TO TITANS 36-30

The Panthers were able to keep pace with the Dickinson Trinity Titans in the first quarter of the 7th place game.

But a bucket less than a minute into the second quarter from senior forward Brianna Soehren allowed the Titans to take the lead and score five points that went unanswered-three of them from an outside shot by senior guard Madi Jahner.

The Panthers were able to respond back with a 3-pointer of their own from freshman forward Karsyn Hager.

A last second bucket by Soehren put the Titans ahead by three (19-16) at halftime.

The Panthers had troubles getting buckets to fall, as they went 11-50 on shots, 3-10 from the arc and 5-11 from the foul line. Dickinson Trinity only faired slightly better, going 15-46 on shots, but was able to get 37 rebounds, compared to Rugby’s 28.

“We struggled offensively in the whole tournament, but in the Rugby game we at least knocked down a few perimeter shots, and we also won the rebounding battle,” said Titans head coach Carter Fong.

The Panthers were able to get a pair of outside shots off in the last minute of the game from Schmaltz and freshman guard Anni Stier. But the Titans were able to win the game, 36-30.

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