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Midgets battered by top-seeded Patriots

BISMARCK -- The Dickinson High girls basketball team knew they had a challenge ahead of them when facing No. 1 Bismarck Century in the quarterfinal round of the West Region Tournament.

Dickinson High senior Mckenna Weiler dribbles up the court against Bismarck Century in a West Region quarterfinal matchup on Thursday, March 1 at the Bismarck Event Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson High senior Mckenna Weiler dribbles up the court against Bismarck Century in a West Region quarterfinal matchup on Thursday, March 1 at the Bismarck Event Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)

BISMARCK - The Dickinson High girls basketball team knew they had a challenge ahead of them when facing No. 1 Bismarck Century in the quarterfinal round of the West Region Tournament.

The last two meetings between the Patriots and the Midgets went undoubtedly in the Patriots favor, as they collected wins with scores of 87-37 and 92-30.

The regional matchup on Thursday, March 1 finished in similar fashion with Century earning a 67-24 victory from the Bismarck Event Center.

However, this game was much better than the past two showings.

"That was the best that we've played that team all year," Dickinson head coach James Hayden said. "I thought we got better that game. I really did. Just their willingness to have energy every single play and to fight through the tough moments, I think they did that great."

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Dickinson was in the game in the opening 10 minutes, as Bismarck made mistakes on the offensive end.

Midgets worked their way around the Patriot defenders to score. Sophomores Kendryn Bullinger and Audrey Rodakowski and senior McKenna Weiler combined to tally the first seven points for the Midgets, keeping it a two possession game.

Once Century found its stride, steals on the perimeter and a suffocating defense stopped Dickinson in its tracks, allowing the Patriots to go on a 14-0 run, bringing their advantage to 26-7 with less than two minutes to go in the half.

Weiler stepped up to the arc and sank a 3-pointer, bringing the Midgets to double digits with 35 seconds left. Her shot from deep was the only one for Dickinson and just one of two in the game.

"Mckenna's been doing great for us and she has a pure shot," Hayden said. "I feel like every time she shoots it, it barely hits any rim, you know. She's been doing that for us all season. When we can (junior) Gabby Jung or Kendryn Bullinger driving to the hole, which then in turn creates Mckenna to be left open because her defender has to help on the drive, that's an excellent time for her to shoot the basketball and she knows that and she's confident in it."

With the ball in hand and the clock ticking down to the half, the Midgets looked to go into the break on a make. Century junior Lilly Keplin snagged the ball and scored on a breakaway to end the half.

The Patriots accumulated 17 steals over the course of the game and forced 27 turnovers, scoring on a majority. Defenders along the perimeter cut Dickinson possessions short with pass tips and steals. Century senior Megan Anderson had a team-high four steals and junior guard Lilly Keplin got three.

"That is a very aggressive, very physical team offensively and defensively. That's why they're the number one team in the state. It's what they're great at." Hayden said. "They forced us into a lot of turnovers and they crashed the offensive glass really hard. ... Plus they do such a good job of getting out into transition after creating a steal from a bad pass and scoring."

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Despite the frustration of the first half and aside from the difficulty of finding a shot, the Midgets held the Patriots to just 28 points, a feat within itself.

"We held them under 70, which is really good for the number one team in the state, especially because we were coming in eighth, so that was really good," Weiler said. "They had 60 in the first half against us at home, but they only had 28 (today). We made improvements for sure."

Patriots sophomore Lauren Ware was a force to be reckoned with all afternoon. Her 6-foot-4 frame tore up both ends of the court as she netted 25 points, seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals.

As Century advances to the semifinal against Bismarck Legacy, the Midgets move to the consolation bracket where they'll face Jamestown at 4:30 p.m. With two wins, they could still qualify for the State Tournament.

"We have to win for sure (Friday). Our goal is to make it to Saturday because our team hasn't done that in a long time," Weiler said about her last chances to play as a Midget. "It's awesome. I feel like I had a really good season. My whole team has been there for me the whole time."

Bismarck Century 67, Dickinson High 24

DHS: Audrey Rodakowski 7, McKenna Weiler 5, Kelsey Privratsky 4, Peyton Selle 4, Gabby Jung 2, Kendryn Bullinger 2.

BC: Lauren Ware 25, Lilly Keplin 12, Katelyn Selensky 8, Chloe Markovic 5, Megan Anderson 4, Amber Domres 3, Jocelyn Julson 2, Bailee Otterness 2, Julie Fitterer 2, Hailey Fletcher 2, Missy Grosz 2.

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Halftime: BC 28, DHS 10. 3-pointers: DHS 1-8 (Weiler 1-3), BC 1-22 (Markovic 1-3). Free throws: DHS 3-5, BC 6-10. Total fouls: DHS 8, BC 8. Rebounds: DHS 27 (Rodakowski, Jung 4), BC 49 (Ware 7). Assists: DHS 4 (Lexi Jordheim 2), BC 12 (Keplin 5). Steals: DHS 6 (Bullinger 1), BC 17 (Anderson 4). Blocks: DHS 2 (Jung), BC 5 (Ware 3). Turnovers: DHS 27, BC 16. Records: DHS 8-15 (WDA 5-14), BC 20-1 (WDA 17-1).

Bismarck Century sophomore Lauren Ware blocks a shot by Dickinson High sophomore Peyton Selle in a West Region quarterfinal matchup on Thursday, March 1 at the Bismarck Event Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)
Bismarck Century sophomore Lauren Ware blocks a shot by Dickinson High sophomore Peyton Selle in a West Region quarterfinal matchup on Thursday, March 1 at the Bismarck Event Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)

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