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Rugby outlasts MLS 47-44 in regionals; went to championship game

By Ryan Ladika - Sports Writer | Feb 27, 2021

Ryan Ladika/MDN Rugby’s Sarah Blessum dribbles the ball across midcourt during the first half of their Region 6 semifinal at the Minot Auditorium, Feb. 23.

Editor’s note: Rugby and Glenburn met in an all-Panthers Region 6 title game Feb. 25. Full recap will be available in next week’s edition.

In the second of two Region 6 girls basketball semifinal contests hosted at the Minot Auditorium Feb. 23, the Rugby Panthers and Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood Mavericks squared off for a chance to meet the Glenburn Panthers in the regional championship Feb. 25.

The No. 2 Mavericks were looking to build upon a 47-38 victory over the Bottineau Stars, while the top-seeded Panthers were coming off a 56-26 rout of the Des-Lacs Burlington Lakers.

Only fourteen total points were scored in a fairly defensive first quarter. Allison Undlin got the affairs started with two quick points to the delight of the Mavericks fans who had traveled with their team. Lainey Schmidt followed with a three-point shot, and the Mavericks jumped out to an early 5-0 advantage.

Rugby drew up a response, outscoring Mohall 7-2 the rest of the way in a very fast-paced first eight minutes. Sarah Blessum, Mykell Heidlebaugh and Tesha Sobolik factored in on the run, and the clock ran out on the first quarter with the game all knotted up at seven.

Both teams kicked the offense up a couple of notches in the second quarter, as the Mavericks began the quarter on a 10-4 run. Jamie Thompson kicked off the offensive stretch with a two-point shot, and Undlin drilled a triple that was met with cheers that reverberated around the arena.

Madison Moberg followed Undlin’s shot with a three-pointer of her own, and Undlin again found the net with two more points to give Mohall a 17-11 advantage. Rugby controlled the tempo through the rest of the quarter, though, as four points from Heidlebaugh and a three-pointer from Kendyl Hager closed out the half on a 7-3 run, pulling Rugby to within two points at a 20-18 deficit entering the locker room.

The third quarter mirrored the first, in that both offenses struggled to navigate the opposing defense. Rugby continued its run with nine points to Mohall’s two through the first seven minutes of the frame, and Rugby had taken its first lead of the game 27-25 with one minute and 27 seconds left in the half. The Mavericks closed the quarter on a 6-5 run, and trailed only by one entering the final eight minutes.

Neither team was able to put lengthy scoring runs together in the final quarter, and the stakes grew larger and larger with every passing second. Rugby held a 45-42 advantage with under a minute to play, and Moberg scored two more to pull her squad to within one.

Mohall fouled with 14.4 seconds left, and Sobolik drained both her tries from the line before another timeout was called and Rugby holding a 47-44 lead.

Gabriella Sullivan later accidentally stepped out of bounds with a second on the clock, giving the Mavericks one final shot to draw up the perfect play.

Out of the timeout, Moberg pitched the ball to Undlin, but her shot sailed wide, giving Rugby the 47-44 victory. Heidlebaugh led the Panthers with 18 points, and Sobolik and Blessum each contributed 11 and 10 respectively to hit double digits. For Mohall, Undlin and Thompson both scored 11 points to lead their squad.

It will be an all-Panthers title game Thursday at 7:30 p.m., as Rugby will square off against Glenburn for the chance to advance to the state tournament.

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