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Panther girls win fifth consecutive CNDC tournament title

By Staff | Dec 13, 2019

Lori Gronvold for the Tribune A pair of Glenburn defenders meet Rugby’s Gabriella Sullivan (center) at the post during the CNDC Tournament in Harvey.

As of last Saturday, Rugby High School’s girls basketball team has a handful of consecutive CNDC tournament championship wins.

And the fifth occurred on the heels of a double Panther showdown in Harvey, in which Rugby prevailed 44-38 over Glenburn.

“Year after year we have to battle. This was a tough game for us. New people, new bodies, still trying to find what works, what gels,” said Rugby Panthers head coach Jen Brossart. “So, hats off to these girls. Glenburn’s a great ball team, they were scrappy, and these girls dug in and they found a way to win. And that could be the name of our game here for a while until we figure this out.”

Rugby worked up an early lead with a 10-2 run over Glenburn. After scores from Tesha Sobolik (who had a buzzer beater from near half court the night before), Riley Grove and Anna Johnson, Rugby was ahead 16-2 at the end of the first quarter.

Glenburn would see a resurgence in the second quarter, outscoring Rugby 9-4.

Late into the third quarter, Glenburn would get their first lead of the night, although it would be brief. Rugby’s Sarah Blessum tied the game up with a 1-for-2 trip at the foul line, and then took the lead back for the Panthers mere seconds later. Sarah’s cousin Brooke would get four points off turnovers and go 2-for-2 at the line to put Rugby ahead 33-26.

Gabriella Sullivan opened scoring for the Rugby squad less than one minute into the fourth quarter. Glenburn was unable to get a bucket for just over 90 seconds until McKenna Rolland got a three-point play. The next nine points Rugby would score on the quarter would come from Brooke Blessum and Mykell Heidlebaugh – who had 23 and 30 total points, respectively, from all three nights of tournament play.

“We got to set the tone early, but we also got to hold a lead,” Brossart said. “We gotta be more composed on defense, not foul, not let these teams get back in it by shooting at the line, and then also we got to be more patient offensively. A lot of travel calls, a lot of tedious calls, and some of that’s our youthness and we just got to get over it. And the more we practice, the better it’s going to get.”

In day one of tournament action, the Rugby Panthers got off to an 11-2 lead, which then became a 24-4 lead by halftime against the Drake-Anamoose Raiders. The lead grew to 44-8 by the end of the third quarter. The Raiders outscored the Panthers 5-2 in the fourth, but the final was 47-13 in the Panthers’ favor.

“We’ve got a lot of young girls, and we’re trying some different rotations,” Brossart said after day one of the tournament, “trying to get a lot of girls in and see where we can make things gel. For the most part, we’ve been pretty satisfied with some of the girls who are coming off the bench.”

The Glenburn Panthers, meanwhile, won 41-38 over the Towner-Granville-Upham Titans.

On night two the Rugby Panthers went against the New Rockford-Sheyenne Rockets. The Panthers got to a 16-12 lead after one, and a 25-14 lead at halftime. The Rockets’ scrappy defense led to steals, and aided them in outscoring the Panthers 13-11 in the third and 8-6 in the fourth. Rugby would walk away with a 42-35 victory to advance to the championship round.

Glenburn advanced after winning, 31-25, over the Harvey-Wells County Hornets.

– Tribune Staff Report

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