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Heart River downs Trinity with last-minute free throws

In a game as tight as Thursday night's was, the only discernible difference for either team ended up being from the free-throw line. Dickinson Trinity and Heart River entered the final minute at Knights of Columbus Activities Center knotted at 44...

Heart River's Bayli Krance defends Dickinson Trinity's Alexa Walby Thursday night at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. (Samuel Evers / The Dickinson Press)
Heart River's Bayli Krance defends Dickinson Trinity's Alexa Walby Thursday night at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. (Samuel Evers / The Dickinson Press)

In a game as tight as Thursday night's was, the only discernible difference for either team ended up being from the free-throw line.

Dickinson Trinity and Heart River entered the final minute at Knights of Columbus Activities Center knotted at 44, where a perfect 5 of 5 from the line from Cougar Bailey Olson gave Heart River just enough separation to escape with a 50-46 Region 7 victory.

She hit two with 50.6 seconds to play, another two with 35.5 seconds left, and finally, one more to push the lead to 49-46 with 19 seconds remaining. A lane violation prevented her final attempt.

The Titans' game-tying try-an errant three-pointer by Jordie McNeilly - was off the mark, and after a final split trip to the line by Heart River, the final horn sounded.

"Bailey's a good shooter and a good free-throw shooter. She's the one we wanted on the line," Cougars coach Gary Ballard said. "We're always hoping that if we get fouled at the end of the game, she's the one to get there."

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The loss for Trinity (3-11, 2-3 Region 7) was its second close one in as many games, but certainly didn't come from lack of effort.

After spotting Heart River (10-4, 3-2) eight in the first quarter, the Titans scratched their way back to just a three-point halftime deficit.

They finally grabbed a lead about a minute into the second half, when McNeilly hit a jumper to make it 25-24.

Then they lost the lead, then got it back, then they lost it again; back and forth it went until the final minute. There were no lead changes in the first 16 minutes and 12 in the final 16 minutes, with the biggest advantage being six early in the fourth quarter, when the Titans hit back-to-back three-pointers.

At times, the offense was running as smooth as it had all year, with Abby Jones leading the way from outside and Lauren Stafford doing a lot of the scoring from the paint. Both finished with 14; Jones was 4 of 8 from deep.

"We played pretty well this game. It's always more fun when you're playing well together with your team," Jones said. "Of course it's tough to lose, but the competitiveness of it was really fun to be a part of."
After jumping ahead 41-35, Heart River's Ashlyn Privratsky-who had a game-high 20-went to work, scoring two baskets plus the foul in a 90-second span. Those six points, plus a free-throw from Afton Shypkoski put the Cougars back up 42-41.

The Titans would battle back to tie it at 44 for that final minute of play, but could never quite get back the lead.

"A couple of possessions just went their way at the end. Our girls played extremely hard. We took care of the ball better against pressure. We felt like we got good looks, just didn't knock them down at times," Trinity head coach Carter Fong said. "Simply playing our game got us in the position of a six-point lead in the fourth quarter. We're just one or two possessions away right now, that's it."

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Heart River 50, Dickinson Trinity 46

HR 12 12 11 15

THS 6 15 13 12

HR: Ashlyn Privratsky 20, Bailey Olson 13, Laken Jacobson 9, Bailey Boltz 3, Afton Shypkoski 3, Jenna Obrigewitch 2.

DT: Abby Jones 14, Lauren Stafford 14, Sami Daniel 5, Josie Glaser 5, Megan Krebs 3, Jordie McNeilly 3, Sarah Kerkman 2.

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