Panther girls return to Region ‘ship
The Rugby Panthers punched their ticket to the championship round of the Region 6 Girls Basketball Tournament.
And after two quarters of ties, a huge third quarter helped set the stage for a 55-41 Panther victory over the District 12 No. 1-seed and No. 7-ranked Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood Mavericks Tuesday in Minot.
Both the Panthers and the Mavericks scored 11 points apiece in the first and second quarters for a 22-22 tie at halftime.
Rugby’s Tesha Sobolik opened the second half with a pair of three-pointers, and the Panthers would start pulling away on a 10-1 run. Mykell Heidlebaugh would add six more points for which the Mavericks would not have an answer for nearly two minutes of play.
The Mavericks’ only points on the quarter came from the foul line, with Janie Savelkoul going 1-for-2 and Leah Feland going 2-for-2
In the fourth quarter, Sobolik would hit three more three-pointers on the night and go 2-for-3 from the foul line to take the lead in scoring for the Panthers. Both Sarah and Brooke Blessum would chip in a combined six points. The Mavericks would score 16 on the quarter, seven coming from Feland.
Panthers’ head coach Jen Brossart also credited cleaning up fouling as a factor for the Panthers in the second half.
“In the first half 10 of 22 of their (the Mavericks’) points were from the free throw line, and we can’t have them scoring points when the clock stops, not a team like that,” Brossart said of the Mavericks. “We reminded them of last year when we came out and we had a great third quarter, and it stuck.”
The Panthers shot 22-for-56 from the field for 39.3 percent, and 7-for-15 from outside for 46.7 percent, and were 4-for-7 from the free throw line for 57.1 percent. The Mavericks were 12-for-52 from the field for 23.1 percent, 1-for-12 from outside for 8.3 percent, and 16-for-20 from the free throw line for 80 percent.
The Panthers were also the Mavericks’ only loss on the regular season, with the former winning 44-27 on their home court.
The Panthers faced the Velva Aggies Thursday for a chance to return to the Betty Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks March 5-7. Results of the championship round will be in next week’s edition.
“I don’t think really anybody expected us to be there. We lost four senior starters last year. I think these guys have felt a little bit that they’ve had to live in their shadows,” said Brossart. “We told them they don’t have to, they just got to be their own team. They’re their own team, they have their own identity and we just got to get after it. And I’m proud of these girls because they came out and played together as a team.”
Rugby wins double Panther showdown
The day before, Rugby won a second double Panther showdown against Glenburn, 42-39.
The Double Panther Showdown part two was nothing short of a defensive battle. Rugby got off to an early five point lead, which Glenburn took away with eight unanswered points in over six minutes.
The next three quarters would prove to be just as much of a slog.
Rugby started the second quarter by snapping Glenburn’s run with a 2-for-2 trip to the line for Sarah Blessum, who 30 seconds later would land a three-pointer to tie the game 10-10. The McIvers (Lorelei and Morgan, respectively) would put Glenburn back up with a 2-for-2 trip and a bucket, respectively. Buckets from Riley Grove and Brooke Blessum allowed Rugby to tie things up again moments later. With 1:10 left in the half, both Panther teams would be tied another time with a three-pointer from Anna Johnson. A critical three-pointer from Sobolik allowed Rugby to briefly take back the lead, however a buzzer-beating bucket from CaVanna Andel put Glenburn back up 21-20 at halftime.
Both teams were scoreless for nearly three minutes into the third quarter until Mykell Heidlebaugh scored a three-pointer to put Rugby back up 23-21. Glenburn then tied things up after a long two from McKenna Rolland. Heidlebaugh would put Rugby back up 25-23 after a trip to the foul line, but Glenburn would put it back up 26-25 after a three-point play from Morgan McIver. A three-pointer from Rolland and a bucket from Brooke Blessum saw the scoreboard read 29-27 still in favor of Glenburn.
Critical buckets in the fourth quarter, including a three-point play, allowed Rugby to take back the lead.
“We told our girls to be ready, and be ready for a dogfight, and it was, and they (Glenburn) brought their A-game,” said Brossart.
Rugby and Glenburn previously met in the final round of the CNDC Tournament in Harvey earlier in the season, in which the former came away with a 44-38 win.
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