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Coming down to defense: Titans win out over Bulldogs in low-scoring semifinal

With 42 seconds left in a Region 7 semifinal, the No. 2 Bowman County girls basketball team led 27-22 over No. 3 Dickinson Trinity. After a timeout, the Titans got the ball and in a flurry of final-second plays, tied the game at 27, forcing overtime.

Dickinson Trinity sophomoreforward Abbey Kubas attempts to disrupt a pass form Bowman County senior forward Ellie Stafford during a Region 7 semifinal on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson Trinity sophomoreforward Abbey Kubas attempts to disrupt a pass form Bowman County senior forward Ellie Stafford during a Region 7 semifinal on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)

With 42 seconds left in a Region 7 semifinal, the No. 2 Bowman County girls basketball team led 27-22 over No. 3 Dickinson Trinity.

After a timeout, the Titans got the ball and in a flurry of final-second plays, tied the game at 27, forcing overtime.

In the extra four minutes, the girls in red struck with a make from sophomore forward Abbey Kubas. From there, the Titans led, although just barely, en route to a 35-33 victory on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center.

"I kind of thought holding them to 27 in regulation would get it done," Dickinson Trinity head coach Carter Fong said with a laugh. "Yet, we needed overtime. We don't press much, we were in desperation mode. ... We were desperate and we made two big plays back-to-back."

Following the timeout, senior forward Alexa Walby converted a three-point play, bringing the score to 27-25. Pressing Bowman County on the inbounds pass, senior guard Masy Kunz snatched the ball from a Bulldog while still under the Titans net. She hopped up for the shot.

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The ball bobbled for a second, but as it sunk through, the Dickinson Trinity faithful erupted. While it was Kuntz' only basket, it was arguably one of the biggest of the contest, and maybe one of the biggest in her basketball career.

"That's a track athlete and a volleyball athlete working her tail off for an entire game for one big play," Fong said. "I told the girls in the locker room, if you made a play today, you made the game-winning play, because when it goes to overtime, that's how it works. We needed every ounce out of everybody and it was such a great team effort."

Bowman County junior guard Jill Svihovec had time in an open lane to shoot, but her left-handed layup attempt was no good, and the Titans collected the rebound, closing out regulation.

"It's a bigger stage, when you play at a region tournament like this, you know you're going to get every team's best," Bowman County head coach Jaden Schoch said. "We knew that, we didn't think we'd win by double digits, but we've grinded out a lot of wins this year. We thought as long as we stay to the game plan and stay consistent we'll be fine."

As the first minute of overtime passed, the Titans led 29-28, but as senior guard Bre Tessier was fouled on a successful layup, she gave her team a chance to make it a two-score game. While she missed the free throw, she redeemed herself by draining the front end of a pair with 35 seconds to go, keeping the Titans up 33-31.

However, on the next Bulldogs possession, Tessier fouled out while chasing down a loose ball with Svihovec. Tessier went to the bench with 23 seconds left, clearly looking upset.

"I was disappointed in myself," Tessier said. "I was worried I was going to let the team down, but we pulled it off, so it's fine."

Svihovec only made one of her shots from the line, preventing the Bulldogs from tying the game.

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After the teams exchanged foul shots the Titans led 35-33. Following a timeout, junior forward Abby Smyle passed from the baseline with 2.8 seconds left. As a last ditch effort, Svihovec threw the ball up from somewhere between half-court and the three-point line. While her heave hit net, it didn't go through the rim.

"It feels great. We worked our butts off for this," Tessier said. "It finally paid off and now we're where we want to be."

While the game ended in blood pressure-raising fashion, it certainly didn't start like that.

The Bulldogs were the dominant team in the first, using six points from Jill Svihovec to build an early lead. Then, after being down 13-3 through the first eight minutes, the Titans netted 11 points in the second to hold a 14-13 advantage at the half.

Svihovec led the Bulldogs with 10 points, while Stafford followed with eight and Smyle had seven.

Kubas was responsible for all the first-half Titans points, save for a 3-pointer from senior forward Alexa Walby.

Kubas led all players with 20 points and 11 rebounds. The last time the teams met on Feb. 5, the Bulldogs were able to contain the 5-foot-11 forward as they won 39-27.

"We wanted to go zone so we were able to have some double teams on Abbey Kubas," Schoch said. "It worked for us last time and for the first quarter or two, it worked, but then she slid up to the high post and hit some shots this time. That was the difference."

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Dickinson Trinity 35, Bowman County 33 (OT)

THS 3 11 6 7 8

BC 13 0 8 6 6

THS: Abbey Kubas 20, Alexa Walby 6, Bre Tessier 5, Masy Kuntz 2, Amaya Willer 2.

BC: Jill Svihovec 10, Ellie Stafford 8, Abby Smyle 7, Abigail Bartholomay 6, Maury Burke 2.

3-pointers: THS 1 (Walby), BC 3 (Bartholomay 2). Free throws: THS 6-13, BC 10-17. Total fouls: THS 16, BC . Fouled out: THS, Tessier. Rebounds: THS 45 (Kubas 11), BC 41 (Stafford 8). Assists: THS 3 (Willer, Walby, Tessier), BC 2 (Bartholomay, Stafford). Steals: THS 11 (Kuntz, Willer, Walby, Kubas 2), BC 4 (Smyle, Svihovec 2). Blocks: THS 1 (Tessier). Turnovers: THS 14, BC 18. Records: THS 16-7, BC 18-4.

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