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Bismarck St. Mary's rallies to top Midgets

Press Photo by Meaghan MacDonald Dickinson High junior Morgan Dukart, left, dribbles against Bismarck St. Mary’s Kaytlyn Heick during a West Region game on Friday at DHS gymnasium.

What looked like a turnaround from a streak of recent bad luck for the Dickinson High girls basketball team ended in another disappointing loss.

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Bounces went in favor of the Midgets in the first half, but the game got away from them in the second.

Bismarck St. Mary’s stepped in to take a 65-44 West Region win over Dickinson on Friday at DHS gymnasium.

“The first half we played well, we got after it defensively, came back from being down 10 and took the lead,” Dickinson head coach Dan Pender said. “But in the second half we came out with really no energy. We didn’t do what we were supposed to do and defensively I don’t think we played very well.”

With 15 minutes, 22 seconds left in the game and Dickinson up 30-28, St. Mary’s got hot and hit five straight shots and recaptured the lead for the first time since the end of the first half.

Once the Saints picked up the pace, they couldn’t be slowed down and outscored the Midgets 22-12 down the stretch.

Saints’ Ashley Wanner and Katelyn Schaffner had game-highs in points, scoring 17 and 13 points, respectively. For the Midgets, senior guard Riana Cooper came off the bench and supplied a team-high 12 points and added four rebounds and three steals.

“In our second half, (coach) told us we always come out slow and he told us not to which we did again,” said Dickinson senior forward Sierra Rohr, who finished with a game-high 10 rebounds. “We need to come out in the second half right away every game on so our offense comes then and we get good looks and shots.”

The Midgets (2-10, 0-9 West Region) played a solid first half and were able to take a slight 26-23 lead into halftime. Senior guard Riley Cooper hit the game’s first basket 14 seconds in, but it was the last lead her team would have for multiple minutes. St. Mary’s senior guard Kate Hixon quickly replied with an easy 3-pointer and outscored the Midgets 16-5 in the next 10 minutes.

Momentum swung back in Dickinson’s favor and scored five-straight points starting at the 8:16 mark with junior guard Lillie Meduna driving inside for a layup. Dickinson had its largest lead of the half, five points, after senior forward Sydney Gangl made her layup and foul shot.

However, the Saints (3-10, 3-7 West Region) crept back into contention. The teams tied twice before Riley made a long 3-pointer to secure the three-point lead at the half.

Free throws can allow teams to win or lose games and St. Mary’s won that battle. The Saints hit 15 of 21 in the second half and went 17 for 25 (68 percent) overall. Dickinson struggled to make it to the line and went 5 for 11.

“You got to give (St. Mary’s) credit too, they made five 3s in the second half and went to the free throw line and they didn’t miss a lot of free throws the second half,” Pender said. “They stepped up and made shots and we struggled again, that’s the way it goes.”

The Midgets have lost their last six games and have been losing by an average of 27.8 points. For the seniors like Rohr and Cooper, the end of their high school careers near and realize it’s time to pick up the pace, win their first WDA game and finish out strong.

“It’s our last year and we want to go out on a good note so we stay positive and try to improve every game,” Riana Cooper said.

The Midgets go on the road next week and travel to Williston at 5 p.m. Thursday in hopes for their first WDA win.

“We need to start picking it up so by towards the end of the season WDA,” Rohr said. “We need to peak there so we can show everyone we worked hard enough to be there and deserve to be there.”

SM: Ashley Wanner 17, Katelyn Schaffner 13, Sarah Stoltz 9, Lindsey Schweitzer 8, Kate Hixson 6, Kaytlyn Heick 4, Alyssa Beck 4, Erin Dohn 3.

D: Riana Cooper 12, Sydney Gangl 8, Riley Cooper 7, Meryl Kovacs 5, Raegen Linster 5, Lillie Meduna 2, Avery Privratsky 2, Sierra Rohr 2, Morgan Dukart 1.

Halftime score: D 24-23. 3-pointers: SM 3 (Hhixson 2, Stoltz 1), D 7 (Riana Cooper 4, Linster 1, Riley Cooper 1, Gangl 1). Free throws: SM 17-25, D 5-11. Total fouls: SM 13, D 22. Rebounds: SM 41 (Wanner 10), D 35 (Rohr 10). Assists: SM 16 (Wanner 4, Stoltz 4), D 11 (five with two). Steals: SM 9 (Wanner 2, Schaffner 2), D 7 (Riana Cooper 3). Turnovers: SM 11, D 18.

Meaghan MacDonald

Meaghan is the sports page designer and copy editor for the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.  After graduating from James Madison University (Va.) in May 2013, she moved from New Jersey to North Dakota to start pursuing her career in sports journalism and was a sports reporter for the Dickinson Press and covered Dickinson State athletics. Meaghan has been working for the Forum since June 2015.