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Panther girls take second at Districts

By Staff | Feb 21, 2020

Lori Gronvold for the Tribune Rugby’s Bella McCabe (no. 34) takes a shot during the championship round of the District 11 Girls Basketball Tournament at Nedrose High School.

All the Rugby Panthers needed to punch their tickets to the Region 6 Girls Basketball Tournament was one win in the District 11 Tournament.

A second win would have given the Panthers the No. 1-seed going into the region tournament.

However, the Velva Aggies would clench the No. 1-seed for the second year in a row, winning the district championship 42-36 over the Panthers last Saturday at Nedrose High School in Minot.

The Aggies scored four points early before Rugby got on the board from a 1-for-2 trip at the foul line for Sarah Blessum. Blessum would go back to the line minutes later for another 1-for-2 trip. Anna Johnson would get a Panther bucket in the final seconds, but not before Kaitlyn Lund and Olivia Passa would combine for eight more Aggies points.

The second quarter saw the Panthers outscore the Aggies by a thin 10-9 margin. The Aggies would still have a 21-14 lead going into halftime.

The third quarter saw the Aggies outscore the Panthers 15-11.

The fourth quarter would see the Panthers at points trim the Aggies’ lead to six, and outscore the Aggies 11-6.

“Velva wanted it more. It was plain from the get-go. Every quarter Velva had an answer and we did not. And that’s the name of basketball, the team that wants it more is going to win,” said Panthers head coach Jen Brossart.

The Panthers had their region tickets punched the previous day in a 49-20 win over the Bottineau Stars.

The Panthers scored 13 points in the first quarter while holding the Stars to a bucket from Sabra Peterson.

The Stars would show a brief resurgence in the second quarter, scoring nine points to the Panthers’ five.

Mykell Heidlebaugh would have herself a huge third quarter, scoring nine of the Panthers’ 13 points. The Stars, meanwhile, were held to four.

The Panthers would widen the gap further in the fourth quarter, scoring 18 points while holding the Stars to five.

With the top seed in District 11, Velva will play the first game of the Region 6 Tournament against District 12 No. 4-seed Bishop Ryan at 3 p.m. at the Minot Municipal Auditorium on Monday.

Rugby, meanwhile, will play their first game of the tournament in a double-Panther showdown against District 12 No. 3-seed Glenburn at 7:30 p.m.

“Glenburn’s a familiar foe, we played them in the CNDC championships so it’s not like they’re completely foreign to us,” said Brossart. “They’re a very scrappy ball team, they get after it, they go after loose balls, they’re very well coached and they’re disciplined. So I expect it to be a good game.”

Rugby takes District awards

Three Panthers qualified for all-district honors.

Brooke Blessum, Sarah Blessum and Heidlebaugh were named to the All-District Team.

Coach Brossart was named Coach of the Year for the 2019-20 season. However Brossart maintains the honor belongs to the entire coaching staff.

“That’s a group effort,” said Brossart. “Coach (Danny) Schneider and Coach (Jeremy) Johnston, that’s every bit their award. They watch film, Coach Schneider watched endless hours of film, so that’s a group effort, that’s a team effort.

Other members of the All-District team were Jaidyn Brummond, Towner-Granville-Upham (who also won Senior Athlete of the Year); Riley Hauff, Drake-Anamoose; Ellie Braaten, Emmie Thompson, Westhope-Newburg; Morgan Haerer, Peterson, Bottineau; Madison Effertz, Passa and Lund, Velva.

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