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Cougars edged out by Buccaneers in close contest 

As the season comes to an end, things begin to heat up.

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Madison Wilhelmi is exuberant after completing a two-point play from a stolen ball against Heart River on Friday, Feb. 11.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press
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BEACH, ND — The Heart River girl’s basketball team traveled to Beach for an important regional matchup that would better determine who could earn the 4 seed and the final bye in the Region 7 tournament.

After an incredibly close contest, it was the Buccaneers that stood victorious and kept their hat in the ring for the fourth spot.

“Our girls never quit,” Beach head coach Mark Golberg said. “We had a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter and we gave it up, but they came back and took the lead again. I lost track. That is the sixth or seventh game we were down in the fourth quarter and won this year, so our girls are resilient.”

The Cougars went into the game with their star shooter, senior forward Lelani Privratsky, out due to injury. With the final result being 59-55, her absence was very noticeable.

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Madison Wilhelmi passes the ball inside the lane to assist a clear open layup for Beach against Heart River on Friday, Feb. 11.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

“Without Lelani Privratsky, who has been averaging 19 points, 9 rebounds for us, so for a team that only scores 40 or 50 points, that's pretty much half of our points,” Heart River head coach Ronnie Stewart said. “Give credit to our two seniors that were definitely there. Our young girls came and did exactly what we asked them to do and for us coaches that all you really ask. We just came up a little bit short.”

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Heart River won the tipoff and were first on the scoreboard with a three-point shot from sophomore guard Sage Froehlich. There were two early ties until the Buccaneers took a 7-0 run to make it 16-9 with 2:22 remaining.

The Cougars would respond with a 5-0 run, trailing 16-14 at the end of the first.

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Abby Talkington secures the ball after it was tipped away from Beach in the first quarter.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

The second quarter was filled with tiebreakers and the lead would switch three times in the last four minutes of the first half. It settled with Heart River taking a one-point lead going into the second half at 27-26.

Beach's highest scoring quarter came in the third with 17 without a single shot coming from three-point territory. The Cougars stayed close behind and tied the game at 38 in the final two minutes of the quarter, but the Buccaneers took the lead once more at 43-40 going into the final quarter.

Heart River took the lead one last time with less than four minutes left to go in the game at 49-48. However, Beach would shoot two critical 3-pointers to take a decisive lead along with a series of precise shooting from the free-throw line to keep it out of reach for the Cougars. Senior point guard Madison Wilhelmi went 5-for-6 at the line in the final quarter.

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Beach's home crowd are ecstatic after the Buccaneers extend their lead with a three-point shot down the stretch.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

“We hit some clutch free-throws at the end of the game,” Golberg said. “Madison Wilhelmi does that alot. When you show up at six in the morning in July, you usually make those free throws in February.”

Wilhelmi was their top scorer with 21 and was 10-for-13 at the charity stripe. Cougars senior forward Jordan Buckman came out hot from the jump and tallied 20 points and was 4-for-4 at the line in the first half.

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Beach defend home court in a well-battled game against Heart River on Friday, Feb. 11.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

The fourth seed will now likely either go to Beach or Mott-Regent, but Heart River isn't entirely out. The Cougars will battle the Wildfire Saturday in Mott and the Buccaneers will finish their season at home against Hazen on Monday.

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Meg Silbernagel was 5-for-7 at the line in their game against Beach on Friday, Feb. 11.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

“Our guards on the outside played with more confidence and that made us feel better,” Stewart said. “If they can play with some confidence we know that we're going to be able to be competitive with any team in this region.”
BOX SCORE:

Q1Q2Q3Q4Final
Heart River1413131555
Beach1610171659

Beach: Madi Wilhelmi 21, Emma Bieber 19, Jenna Wojahn, Laiken Mahlum, Eliza Braden 5, Mazie Wilhelmi 2; Heart River: Jordan Buckman 20, Abby Talkington 13, Meg Silbernagel 12, Sage Froehlich 8, Sage Lacoe 2

Josiah C. Cuellar was born in San Angelo, Texas, a small rural community in the western part of the state known for its farming, ranching and beautiful Concho River. A Texas A&M San Antonio graduate specializing in multi-media reporting, Cuellar is an award winning photographer and reporter whose work focuses on community news and sports.
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