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Stealing a win

The New England girls basketball team spent 45 minutes of Thursday's practice going over its press defense. The work turned into 32 minutes of terror for Beulah's guards as the Tigers had 17 steals to stake a 55-49 victory on Friday night at the ...

The New England girls basketball team spent 45 minutes of Thursday's practice going over its press defense.

The work turned into 32 minutes of terror for Beulah's guards as the Tigers had 17 steals to stake a 55-49 victory on Friday night at the New England High School gymnasium.

Sophomore point guard Jordyn Bender had eight steals - most of which contributed to points. She added a team-high 17 points.

"It's a new press this year and it's obviously working for us," Bender said. "Everybody is getting into it and everybody is getting steals."

New England, which never trailed, didn't start making the Miners' turnovers count in bunches until midway through the second quarter when Bender had back-to-back layups off steals that jumpstarted a 12-1 run to give New England a 28-14 lead.

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Tigers coach Jason Jung laughed when asked to talk about his team's defense on Friday night.

"A lot of times you have teams that want to score," he said. "This team wants to play defense."

They proved that in the third quarter after Beulah junior center Karsen Little Solider had three straight jumpers to cut New England's lead to 34-29.

The Tigers promptly kicked up the defensive intensity and went on a 7-2 run to quell the Miners' comeback.

"Their press hurt us, but it shouldn't have," Beulah coach Clarence Winfrey said. "We didn't do things we've worked on."

New England led 41-33 going into the fourth quarter.

However, Beulah was unable to slow down the Tigers' uptempo offense that they paired with their pressure defense.

The Tigers built a 47-33 lead by the 6:45 mark of the fourth after converting three straight shots on fast breaks.

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"We like the fast break," Bender said. "It's what we're best at."

Jacey Pulver scored 11 of her game-high 20 points as the Miners tried to battle back in the fourth quarter. The junior guard hit four 3-pointers in the game, three of which came in the fourth.

Pulver's 3-pointer with 4:05 left cut the Tigers' lead to 47-41. However, New England senior Dana Kuhn fired back with a 3-pointer of her own. Bender followed with a pair of layups off steals on consecutive possessions to give the Tigers some breathing room.

"They have a nose for the ball," Jung said of his team. "They anticipate so well."

Junior center Shari Hewson added 12 points, seven rebounds and three steals for New England, which improved to 2-0 and will face Watford City on Tuesday in the opening round of the Roughrider Tournament.

"We want to keep it going," Bender said. "... Nobody expected us to start out 2-0."

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