Spoilers power past Linton-HMBBISMARCK — This one was a long time coming for Grafton.
By: Greg DeVillers, The Dickinson Press
BISMARCK — This one was a long time coming for Grafton.
The Spoilers claimed their first Class B girls high school basketball championship here Saturday night. The Spoilers’ defense dominated and their offense clicked as they ran to a 76-54 win against Linton-HMB.
Not only is it Grafton’s first B girls state basketball title; it is the Spoilers’ first appearance in the tournament. And it came after a string of near-misses — in the previous four seasons, Grafton lost twice in the Region 2 championship game, and two other times in the region semifinals. The rule was close setbacks.
“It’s been a road, a long journey, for these kids,” said the Spoilers’ Laurie Sieben, the Class B coach of the year. “They’ve been on the heart-break side at tournament times. I think those losses made them hungrier.
“It’s a group that hasn’t been satisfied. They’ve worked hard in the offseason. This is the game they’ve worked to put themselves in. They’ve earned this. I think they’ll appreciate this even more after all they’ve been through.”
Senior Brooke Gaustad, a fifth-year varsity player, has been on all those disappointing endings. “It wasn’t fun to lose those games,” Gaustad said. “But now, to win state, this is the best feeling ever, so awesome.”
Grafton took control early, dominating the first half. The Spoilers led 23-9 after one quarter and 41-15 at intermission.
Linton-HMB had 17 first-half turnovers, 12 of those on Grafton steals. The Spoilers converted those possessions into 21 points. By contrast, Linton-HMB had only two points off Grafton first-half miscues. Grafton finished the game with 30 points off the Lady Lions’ 23 turnovers.
“We came out strong, and defense is our strength,” Spoilers senior Samantha DeSautel said. “We were all on track.”
Grafton closed the first quarter on a 14-2 run, started by back-to-back 3-pointers by Hanna Thompson, who was chosen the tournament’s most valuable player.
Then, after Linton-HMB opened the second quarter with a field goal, Grafton went on a 16-2 run, with 12 of those points coming off turnovers.
Hanna Thompson’s 23 points paced the Spoilers, with DeSautel adding 13, Cassie Thompson 12 and Gaustad nine. McKenna Flyberg had 13 points, including five treys, and Kayln Schneider scored 12 to lead Linton-HMB.
“We didn’t play as well as we can in the first two games,” Gaustad said. “But there’s nothing better than to come out and play your best in a state championship game.”
LHMB 9 15 35 54
Grafton 23 41 59 76
LHMB: McKenna Flyberg 13, Kalyn Schneider 12, Robin Weber 9, Kaidra Larson 7, Whitney Gerving 3, Amber Umber 3, Alex Umber 3, Nicole Nieuwsma 2, Taylor Beck 2.
G: Hanna Thompson 23, Samantha DeSautel 13, Cassie Thompson 12, Brooke Gaustad 9, Alyson McMartin 8, Brooke Feltman 4, Allison Burns 4, Jessica Burns 2, Megan Jiskra 1.
3-pointers: LHMB 6 (Flyberg 3, W. Gerving 1, Am. Umber 1, Al. Umber 1), G 7 (H. Thompson 5, Gaustad 1, Burns 1). Total fouls: LHMB 12, G 15. Rebounds: LHMB 26 (Schneider 9), G 24 (C. Thompson 5, Gaustad 5). Assists: LHMB 12 (W. Gerving 3, Al. Umber 3, Schneider 3), G 18 (DeSautel 6). Steals: LHMB 7 (seven with 1), G 16 (C. Thompson 4). Turnovers: LHMB 23, G 12.
All-tournament team: Hanna Thompson, Grafton (unanimous); Fallyn Freije, Lakota/Adams-Edmore (unanimous); Kalyn Schneider, Linton-Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock (unanimous); Hannah Stewart, Minot Ryan (unanimous); Paige Emmel, Shiloh Christian; Hailee Farstveet, Beach; Samantha DeSautel, Grafton; Brooke Graff, Kindred; Robin Weber, Linton-Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock; Ashtin Freije, Lakota/Adams-Edmore.
Tournament MVP: Hannah Thompson, Grafton.
Senior Athlete of the Year: Sierra Rosenau, Carrington.
Coach of the Year: Laurie Sieben, Grafton.
DeVillers is a sports reporter for the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.