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Home stretch gets tougher for Panther girls

By Staff | Feb 7, 2020

The Rugby Panther girls basketball team came away with three tough Ws in a five-day span.

The Panthers scored a 51-48 win in overtime Monday in Des Lacs.

Rugby got out to a strong start early, with buckets from Tesha Sobolik and Sarah Blessum and a three-pointer from Mykell Heidlebaugh. However a late surge allowed the Lakers to take a 17-14 lead by the end of one quarter.

The second quarter would see both teams chip in eight points apiece – for Rugby six of them came from outside shots for the Blessums. The Lakers held the lead, albeit by a thin 25-22 margin.

The third quarter would be a similar affair, as both teams would hold each other to 13 points apiece and DL-B would hold a 38-35 lead.

The fourth quarter would see a change in fortunes.

Brooke Blessum struck first for the Panthers in the opening seconds. Heidlebaugh would follow close behind with another three-pointer. After the Lakers’ MacKenzie Rist went 1-for-2 at the charity stripe, a Panther bucket from Sarah Blessum forced a brief lead change.

However, the Lakers would add five more points of their own into the mix, again forcing a lead change. Two buckets from Brooke Blessum and misses at the free throw line sent the game into overtime.

In overtime, Sobolik forced a critical turnover in the Panthers’ favor. It then paved the way for a critical three-pointer from Brooke Blessum. Sarah Blessum would have a successful trip at the line just over a minute later. The Lakers’ Brooklyn Benno would get a bucket in the final seconds of the extra period.

“We battled back,” said Panthers head coach Jen Brossart. “Hey, at the end of the day a win is a win. I thought we showed some grit in the second half. Des Lacs-Burlington’s a good team and they came out on fire and they wanted to prove something, and I thought we hung in there.”

Two days earlier, the Panthers won 51-47 over a Shiloh Christian Skyhawks team with a height advantage in the post.

Two days before that, the Panthers finished regular season District play with a win over the Velva Aggies.

The Aggies held a very tight 7-6 lead at the end of one quarter. However, Rugby scored 15 points while holding Velva to eight to take a 21-15 lead into halftime. The third quarter saw the Aggies outscore the Panthers 15-10 to trim Rugby’s lead to just one point. The fourth quarter saw Rugby outscore the Aggies 14-10 for a 45-40 win.

The Panther girls ended their regular season with a couple tastes of competition from Region 4.

The Panthers hosted the North Star Bearcats on Thursday, and last night the Panthers hosted the no. 7-ranked Four Winds-Minnewaukan Indians.

“The last two games are going to be tough,” said Brossart. “And this is all right, it’s good for us to be challenged like this coming down to the District tournament. It’s absolutely good, our girls need this. I wouldn’t say it’s a wakeup call, I would say this is a gut check.”

District 11 tournament play will begin Thursday, Feb. 13, at Nedrose High School in Minot. The top four teams will advance to the Region 6 Tournament, which will start Monday, Feb. 24, at the Minot Municipal Auditorium.

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