Braves bury Midgets with three-point barrage.
The Mandan girls basketball team started its road contest against Dickinson High ice cold from the perimeter, allowing the Midgets to race out to a double-figure lead early in the half.
However, once the ball began falling through the net from deep, there was little the home team could do to slow the high-octane Braves down.
On the strength of the three-point shot, No.2-ranked Mandan ended the first half with a 21-point turnaround en route to a 73-52 victory on Tuesday, Jan. 15, from the Dickinson High Gym.
"I thought it was a pretty good game for us, honestly. We did some things defensively, they got a lot of really good shooters, so we forced some of their other shooters to make shots tonight," Dickinson head coach James Hayden said. "We slowed down their main shooters, which was good, but it's pick your poison with them.
Mandan finished the game with 12 makes from downtown. However, the visitors were off-target on their first five attempts from long distance. The Midgets capitalized, jumping out to a 12-2 advantage in the early moments thanks to to seven quick points from junior point guard Kendryn Bullinger.
Freshman guard Piper Harris knocked down the Braves' first 3-pointer five minutes and eight seconds into the game. From there, a corner three from sophomore guard Sydney Gustavsson closed the Dickinson advantage to 18-17. Midgets senior guard Gabby Jung kept the opponent at bay with a pair of baskets, but three-point shots from Gustavsson and senior guard Kennedy Harris gave Mandan its first lead at 23-21 midway through the opening half.
"Our game plan coming in is that they got three main scorers from the outside," Hayden said. "We decided why don't we play them a little bit closer and then play off the other two, clog the paint and force those other two to make shots ... In the first half, I thought we did a really good job with the game plan and making those other players make shots."
Dickinson wasn't too shabby from long range either, as a corner three from sophomore guard Symone Beld was one of nine Midgets' makes from behind the arc, closing the home team's deficit to 29-28 before Mandan finished the half on a 12-2 surge.
The Braves closed out the first half making 7 of their last 11 3-pointers.
"We have a lot of great shooters on our team and we love to fire it from the outside. We always shoot with a lot of confidence," Mandan head coach Abby Thomas said. "When the first few don't fall, we talk about crashing the boards and working it inside-out a little bit more to get more shots in rhythm. ... So we tried to tell them to 'work it a little bit, reverse the ball from side-to-side, get some drives and kickouts, and that's how our high-percentage shots fall. I thought we did a better job of that as the game went on."
Mandan stretched the lead to as much as a 25 pointsin the second half. Senior forward Megan Zander scored 17 of her game-high 19 points after halftime. Junior forward Lakyn Darras and Kennedy Harris chipped in with 16 and 15 points, respectively.
The Braves placed most of their defensive emphasis on Jung by chasing and trying to deny her the ball, but the senior paced the Midgets with 17 points. Bullinger followed with 12 points while Beld added 11 points.
"They really made it hard on Gabby tonight. Gabby did a really good job of playing within the system and incorporating her teammates," Hayden said. "She still finished with 17 points on 7 of 15 from the field, so very efficient."
Mandan 73, Dickinson 52
M 41 32
D 30 22
M: Megan Zander 19, Lakyn Darras 16, Kennedy Harris 15, Piper Harris 8, Janie Berger 6, Sydney Gustavsson 6, Liz Goodhart 3.
D: Gabby Jung 17, Kendryn Bullinger 12, Symone Beld 11, Audrey Rodakowski 8, Taylor Nelson 4.
3-pointers: M 12 (Zander 3), D 9 (Jung 3). Free throws: M 9-14, D 5-7. Total fouls: M 11, D 11. Records: M 11-1 (West Region 10-1), D 4-7 (West Region 4-6).