Miners counter, top Tigers in overtime
When tournament time rolls around, anything can happen.
The last second shot by Kessler was a turning point for the No. 5 seed Miners, which played a turnover-laden first half, and outlasted the Tigers 75-70 in a quarterfinals game Monday at DHS gymnasium.
“I didn’t think it was going in because I was fading away, but it was good, it felt really good,” Kessler said, smiling.
New England (15-7) held a lead over Beulah (13-10) the entire second half, but the Miners fought tooth and nail to try and climb out of its deficit.
Down 56-50 with 3 minutes, 58 seconds left in regulation, Beulah capitalized on two straight New England turnovers — a steal by junior Nicole Schramm under the net and a turnover by New England’s Taylor Hewson to Kessler — to close the gap to two points.
The Tigers desperately tried to hold on to its lead with six seconds to go but fouled junior Nessa Iverson. Iverson made one foul shot to make it a one possession game, but Kessler was quick to the rebound to make the final shot and send it into overtime.
“I’m so proud of Lakin Kessler for the job that she did,” Beulah head coach Mary Hoherz said. “Defending, her defense is amazing, but then her quick hands for that quick put back and Jaime (Murschel) coming down and making some big rebounds.”
Beulah captured its first lead of the game since the first half as Kessler drained a 3 to go 65-64. New England’s Jenna Ehlis went 2-2 at the free-throw line and threatened with a 71-70 deficit, but the Miners scored four extra points for breathing room and the final win.
“We did awesome,” Murschel said. “We never gave up and kept fighting and our goal was to outrebound them and I think we did pretty well boxing out and just being aggressive.”
Both teams had at least three players in double figures with Ehlis leading New England with 24 points followed by seniors Hannah Nordby and Gabbi Hanson with 16 and 13, respectively. The Tigers only shot 29 percent (20 for 68) on the night, but were able to capitalize on Beulah’s 25 turnovers, 12 of which were in the first half.
“I’m proud of our girls and how they battled all four quarters and in overtime, we didn’t give up at all,” New England head coach Jason Jung said. “I thought they played hard the whole game, we just unfortunately didn’t box out on a couple of free throws at the end and Beulah took advantage of that.”
Murschel had a game-high 26 points and 13 rebounds, while junior Delaney Johansen added 15, Kessler contributed 14 and senior Courtney Mitchell rounded out with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The past few seasons had been unkind to Beulah and the beginning of the year was rocky as well. But Hoherz kept telling her team to never give up and to keep pushing forward.
“There was a lot of learning going on, that’s why you play those 20, 21 games …,” Hoherz said. “… It took some hardship, it took some heartache, took some frustrations to get where we’re at but that’s why you’re successful and don’t give up.”
With another guaranteed game to play, Beulah returns to the court to take on top seed Beach at 6 p.m. today. The Miners know what they’re up against and the damage they did against Hebron-Glen Ullin. The key will be to handle their defensive pressure and to outwork them on both ends of the ball.
“They’re talented, hard workers but we just have to outwork them,” Kessler said. “Whoever wins that game comes from passion.”
New England 18 31 49 60 70
Beulah 14 26 44 60 75
NE: Jenna Ehlis 24, Hannah Nordby 16, Gabbi Hanson 13, Victoria Koch 8, Autumn Wolf 5, Taylor Hewson 4
B: Jaime Murschel 26, Delaney Johansen 15, Lakin Kessler 14, Courtney Mitchell 10, Nicole Schramm 6, Ness Iverson 4
3-pointers: NE 5 (Ehlis 3, Hanson 2), B 5 (Mitchell 2, Iverson 1, Kessler 1, Johansen 1). Free throws: NE 25-43, B 10-21. Total fouls: NE 19, B 26. Fouled out: NE Nordby, Hewson; B Schramm, Kessler. Rebounds: NE 48 (Nordby 11), B 49 (Murschel 13). Assists: NE 17 (Wolf 6), B 20 (Murschel, Kessler 4). Steals: NE 26 (Wolf 5), B 17 (Kessler 5). Blocks: NE none, B 1 (Mitchell). Turnovers: NE 17, B 25. Records: NE 15-7, B 13-10.