Cougars attack: Heart River gets tough down stretch to beat Night HawksBOWMAN — After Heart River and Hettinger-Scranton combined to shoot 9 of 48 (19 percent) from the field in the first half, their coaches each had the same message at halftime.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
BOWMAN — After Heart River and Hettinger-Scranton combined to shoot 9 of 48 (19 percent) from the field in the first half, their coaches each had the same message at halftime.
Attack the basket.
The Heart River girls basketball team ran with their coaches’ message in the second half, improving their shooting percentage and making 18 trips to the free-throw line en route to a 41-33 win over Hettinger-Scranton in the opening round of the District 13 Tournament on Friday at Solberg Gymnasium.
“It was kind of a slow start again and that’s the same way we started the regular season game against Hettinger-Scranton,” Heart River head coach Kelsey Boedeker said. “We knew it was going to be a battle. The game was probably going to come down to free throws and sure enough it did.”
The Cougars made sure to make every trip to the free-throw line count. They shot 20 of 26 (77 percent). The Cougars had a stretch in the second half where they went 14 of 17 from the stripe.
“All five players on floor have to be aggressive and look to get to the basket,” Boedeker said. “I think, in the second half, we did a really good job of that.”
The Cougars shot 3 of 21 (14 percent) from the field in the first, but responded to hit 7 of 18 (39 percent) in the second half.
Mary Hlebechuk, a senior guard, led the team with 14 points and seven steals. Jada Mattson added 10 points off the bench.
“We’ve always been a team that’s started out really slow,” Hlebechuk said. “We come out in the second half and we hit really well. The second half has been big for us this year.”
In Heart River’s last eight games, the Cougars are 5-3 including three-straight wins. To start the season, Heart River lost 10 of its first 11 games. The Cougars play top-seeded Beach at 5:30 p.m. today in the semifinals.
“I’m so proud of my team,” Hlebechuk said. “It’s been amazing to see how much we’ve improved this year. Anything can happen. We know we are a good team.”
The Night Hawks held a 14-12 lead at halftime after shooting 6 of 27 (22 percent) from the field. Hettinger-Scranton increased its shooting percentage by six percent in the second half.
“We’ve been struggling with attacking the basket for half of the season,” Hettinger-Scranton head coach Kelly Pierce said. “We preach ‘Attack the basket, attack the basket, attack the basket.’ We’re just struggling doing it right. It just boils down to having the confidence to put up shots.”
Hettinger-Scranton’s lone player in double figures was Bailey Sadowsky with 10 points. She also had six rebounds and two steals. Sophomore Casey Joppa supplied seven points, five rebounds and three steals.
The Nights Hawks have one more chance to make it to the Region 7 Tournament. They play the loser of the semifinal game between No. 2 seed New England and No. 6 seed Bowman County at 4 p.m. Monday in a region-qualifier game.
“It comes down to winning a game,” Pierce said. “We just need to come out and lay it all on the line and play as hard as we can. Shots will fall. We just have to keep trying to put it in the basket.”
HS 9 12 25 41
HR 5 14 23 33
HS: Bailey Sadowsky 10, Casey Joppa 7, Kaitlin Reitz 4, Becca Oase 4, Kaitlyn Olson 3, Cassie Holt 3, Michaela Erickson 2.
HR: Mary Hlebechuk 14, Jada Mattson 10, Karli Northop 5, Janessa Schmidt 4, Addison Olson 4, Jessica Praus 2, Alex Poland 2.
3-pointers: HS 2 (Joppa 1, K. Olson 1), HR 1 (Hlebechuk 1). Free throws: HS 5-7, HR 20-26. Total fouls: HS 21, HR 13. Fouled out: HS, Oase. Rebounds: HS 37 (Holt 7), HR 29 (Schmidt 5). Assists: HS 5 (K. Olson 3), HR 2 (Poland 1, Schmidt 1). Steals: HS 10 (Joppa 3), HR 14 (Hlebechuk 7). Blocks: HS 1 (Oase 1), HR 0. Turnovers: HS 20, HR 17.