Killdeer outlasts Rugby in state tournament opener
Battling a ranked opponent in the 2018 Class B state tournament, the Killdeer High girls basketball team cleared its first hurdle to reaching championship gold.
In a game that featured six ties and eight lead changes, the unseeded Cowboys outlasted No. 3 Rugby, coming away with a 51-45 win on Thursday, Mar. 1 from the Minot State Dome.
"We're just so proud of the effort that the girls put together," Cowboys head coach Ashlee Viveros said. "We had a really good first half. I thought the defensive effort and execution was one of the best that we've had."
Holding their opponent without an attempt from the free throw line in the first half, the Cowboys held a 27-19 lead entering halftime and increased the gap to 12 points just a minute into the third quarter. However, the Panther's responded with a 16-point turnaround, taking a four-point lead midway through the final period.
"I think it's always an uncomfortable situation to be in when a team goes on a run, but I think the way that they responded showed a level of maturity," Viveros said. "Often times you'll see when the other team goes on a run, players will go off and do their own thing, but the one thing you'll notice about our players is that when the other team goes on a run, they stay together. They huddle, they pick each other up, they encourage each other, and I think that's kind of a big thing for us. They stay together when it's tough and that's what gets them through the tough times."
Defense carried Killdeer in the game's crucial moments.
While they were able to get to the free throw line, shooting 6-of-9 in the fourth quarter, Rugby was limited to 2-for-10 shooting from the field. The Panthers' 45 points are the third-fewest scored in a game this season.
"I thought our defensive effort in the fourth quarter was incredible," Viveros said. "The shots that Rugby was shooting were shots that were contested...I thought in the fourth quarter, all five girls and even the bench was doing a great job of just being locked in.
Panthers senior center Madison Uhlenkamp lead all scorers with 17 points.
Leading the Killdeer charge were seniors Sydney Anderson and Trae Murray, who each scored 15 points. Murray added seven rebounds and two blocks while Anderson contributed two steals and a game-high 11 rebounds, including three on the offensive boards.
The work on the offensive glass was vital for a Cowboys team that shot 40 percent from the floor and under 50 percent for the line. They held a 17-7 advantage in second chance points.
Winning 11 consecutive games, Killdeer will face unranked Thompson High, who earlier in the day upset No. 2 seed Langdon Area-Edmore/Munich, in the tournament semifinals on Friday, Mar. 2 at 6:30 p.m. (CT).
"We have some film on Thompson, but I haven't had much of a chance to watch the film," Viveros said. "We did get to watch a little bit before we went to the locker room before our game. So that's something that we're going to need to focus on tonight. The coaches are going to get together, put together a scouting package, watch the film and get the girls prepared in our shootaround tomorrow. But as long we continue to work on the defensive side, finishing with the box out, staying together and continuing to play team basketball, I think we'll put ourselves in a good position for tomorrow's game."
Killdeer 51, Rugby 45
K 15 12 9 15
R 12 7 16 10
K: Trae Murray 15, Sydney Anderson 15, Shawnee Hansen 12, Bridgette Reiss 4, Melayna Four Bear 3, Steena Larsen 2.
R: Madison Uhlenkamp 17, Anni Stier 10, Karsyn Hager 9, Tristin Lunde 7, Whitney Gronvold 2.
3-pointers: K 3 (Murray 1, Anderson 1, Four Bear 1), R 3 (Hager 3). Free throws: K 8-17, R 6-10. Total fouls: K 10, B 14. Fouled out: 1 (R: Maria Blessum 1). Technical fouls: 1 (R: Blessum). Rebounds: K 34 (Anderson 11), R 30 (Lunde 8). Assists: K 9 (Hansen 5), R 8 (Lunde 2, Stier 2, Gronvold 2). Steals: K 6 (Anderson 2, Larsen 2), R 4 (Lunde 2). Blocks: K 2 (Murray 2), R 1 (Blessum 1). Turnovers: K 12, R 14. Records: K 21-4, R 22-3.