Size not an issue for Hazen in win over Killdeer
Killdeer has the distinction of being one of the tallest teams in Region 7 girls basketball. Hazen doesn't have a player on its roster over 5-foot-8.
Size didn't matter as much as defense Saturday night in the semifinals of the District 14 Tournament.
Third-seeded Hazen outrebounded the second-seeded Cowboys on both ends and gradually pulled away for a 57-39 victory at Knights of Columbus Activities Center.
Junior Sadie Bolton, who had 10 points and 11 rebounds, said the Bison often focus on rebounding.
"We practice it a lot because we're a smaller team, and we have to work hard," she said. "We don't expect anything less if we're going up against bigger girls."
Hazen kept Killdeer junior Morgan LeMieux, a 6-foot forward, from exploding after a solid first half.
LeMieux finished with nine points, eight rebounds and five assists but was practically non-existent in the second half -- as were most of the Cowboys.
Hazen, despite its distinct disadvantage in the size department, outrebounded the Cowboys 46-34 and had 20 offensive rebounds that translated into second-chance points and more time with the basketball.
"My girls, they scrap and they play hard," Hazen head coach John Ward said. "They know they're small and they know they're going to have to work harder than everyone else to get those rebounds and they find that as a challenge and they like to step up to that challenge."
After it pulled ahead late in the second quarter to establish a 28-23 halftime lead, Hazen outscored Killdeer 29-16 in the second half as the Cowboys shot just 4 of 15 from the free-throw line after halftime.
"I think we're all happy right now, we're all celebrating," Bolton said after the game. "We have a big game coming up and we have to focus. It was fun and we did all the little things to get to the big spot."
Hazen moves on to face top-seeded Dickinson Trinity at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the championship game while Killdeer falls into a region-qualifier game where it will face fourth-seeded Richardton-Taylor at 4:30 p.m. for a spot in the Region 7 Tournament.
"The girls feel bad," Killdeer head coach Sarah Doe said. "They wanted to win and they know they did a lot of things incorrectly. Hoping to use that as motivation to fix that and come back Monday and play the game we know we can. This really wasn't our game."
Killdeer started strong behind LeMieux and sophomore Jessica Starr, who had 11 points and seven rebounds, and took a 13-10 first-quarter lead.
But Hazen turned things around in the second quarter when it used a 10-0 run sparked by senior Rachael Hansana and Bolton to pull ahead 22-15. The Bison never trailed again.
Junior Ashton Carter led Hazen with 16 points while Hansansa added eight and juniors Lexie Biffert and Kendra Slaubaugh each scored seven points to contribute to Hazen's balanced offensive effort.
"We came together as a team and the little things came as we played harder," Bolton said.
Hazen 10 28 43 57
Killdeer 13 23 32 39
H: Ashton Carter 16, Sadie Bolton 10, Racheal Hansana 8, Lexi Biffert 7, Kendra Slaubaugh 7, Dakota Wood 4, Krista Slaubaugh 3, Mariya Schneider 2.
K: Jessica Starr 11, Ashley Brew 9, Morgan LeMieux 9, Danielle Cleveland 2, Kelsey Knutson 2.
3-pointers: H 2 (Carter 2), K 1 (Starr). Free throws: H 13-22, K 10-24. Total fouls: H 20, K 21. Fouled out: H, Schneider; K, Knutson, Jurnee Murray. Rebounds: H 46 (Bolton 11), K 35 (LeMieux 8). Assists: H 10 (Wood 3, Biffert 3), K 8 (LeMieux 5). Steals: H 14 (Wood 6), B 10 (Starr 3). Blocks: H 2 (Biffert 2), K 4 (LeMieux 2, Starr 2). Turnovers: H 13, K 24.