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Tigers defense overpowers Richardton-Taylor

Solid defensive pressure helps New England take solid win over Richardton-Taylor

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The Raiders' Jayne Krank struggles to get past New England's pressure defense. (Matthew Curry / The Dickinson Press)

For both New England and Richardton-Taylor, the season may not have gone the way they have wanted it to. However, both teams have been known to battle until the very end, and New England has been seen as a team constantly progressing and getting better each day both on offense and defense.

With the two teams set to battle on Monday night in New England it was projected to be a hard-fought battle. However, for the Tigers, who were honoring Elli Rettinger for Senior Night, the Tigers were highly motivated to not let the night be soured by a loss.

By the end of the night, with their strong defensive pressure and smart offensive ball movement, the entire New England gym celebrated a solid 66-31 victory over their Class B Region 7 foes.

For Tigers Head Coach Jason Jung, the victory felt like a long time coming for his team and their hard work ethic.

"I'm just so excited and absolutely happy about their performance," Jung said. "We needed a game like this."

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On the other side, for Raiders Head Coach Gary Ballard, the loss was a tough blow, but one the team is sure to learn from and become better from in the long run. However, one lesson that was learned from the opening of the game was limiting the turnovers.

"We came out and turned the ball over way too many times against their press," Ballard said. "But those are some of the things that we've been working on. The girls have been good all year — even though we've only won two basketball games, they've been working hard and trying to develop the fundamentals of basketball."

Since the opening tipoff, the Tigers defense was nearly perfect with its constant full-court press. After scoring the first two points on a layup, the Tigers recorded back-to-back layups on steals to take a quick 6-0 lead and forcing Ballard to call an early timeout.

New England would never give up the lead.

Richardton-Taylor was able to narrow the gap against the Tigers with Ashlynn Christensen draining an and-one on a 3-pointer, followed by hitting the free throw to narrow the gap back to two with a 6-4 score.

But New England did not panic and continued to pressure the Raiders on defense, racking up numerous turnovers. It did not take long for the Tigers to go on a 9-0 run to take a 15-4 lead. By the end of the first quarter, the Tigers held a 17-9 lead.

The Tigers continued their suffocating defense in the second quarter and outscored the Raiders 17-7 to take a 34-16 lead into the halftime break.

Jung was very proud of his players for their strong efficiency on the defensive end when it came to using the press early in the game.

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"We installed the press at the beginning of the year and it's worked at times very well, and we just told the girls 'if we stay in the position we're supposed to be in and keep working hard at that press, that it's going pay dividend," Jung said. "We got tons of steals off of it, and tonight was the first time that we got so many steals and so many baskets off of those steals."

For Ballard, the team's struggles on limiting turnovers came out to be the main factor in the 18-point deficit going into the halftime break.

"The big thing is reversing the ball and trying to get it in the middle or up the sideline if it's open," Ballard said. "We just had trouble making good passes, and sometimes that happens. We've just got to meet the passes and do all the little things."

New England continued its strong suit in the second half by scoring Richardton-Taylor and going on an 8-1 run to take a 42-17 lead early in the third quarter. The Tigers' fans roared with excitement for their home team with each strong play made on offense and defense.

Richardton-Taylor attempted to find ways of getting past the Tigers' heavy pressure — including making deep passes down the court or sprinting to the other side of the court amid the contact of the Tigers' defense — but could only do so for a short time. By the end of the third quarter, the Tigers held a 53-26 lead.

With the game nearly safely in hand, the Tigers continued to drain the Raiders of their remaining fuel and went on a 6-0 run to start the fourth quarter to take a 61-26 lead. Despite knowing the game was just about lost, the Raiders continued to put everything they had into trying to make positive plays that could bring some more confidence into the team, even if it was for the next game.

By the end of the fourth quarter, the Tigers were celebrating a 66-31 victory.

Despite the overall large deficit outcome, both coaches saw some positivity in their teams.

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For Jung, along with the team's ability to play solid defense and offense, it was the team showing their true potential going into the final stretch of the '20-21 regular season.

"Us coaches have been confident in this team all year. We knew it would take a little time, but it's just great to see the confidence in the kids now and that they are starting to believe that we are actually a pretty decent basketball team," Jung said. "We're going to get better and better all the time and I think that they're actually seeing that and seeing their confidence is very exciting."

As for Ballard, despite the tough outcome, the coach was pleased with his team's determination to constantly give their all and still want to do their best.

"In this game, we didn't quit," Ballard said. "We came back in that second half and we hustled, so the hustle was a good thing."

With the victory, the Tigers are now 1-6 in regional play and 3-15 overall. The team will play again on the road on Thursday against Glen Ullin-Hebron.

As for the Raiders, the team is now 0-9 in regional play and 2-16 overall. The team is now on a six-game skid and will hope to snap it on Thursday at home against Killdeer.

Richardton-Taylor: 9 7 10 5 - 31

New England: 17 17 18 13 - 66

Richardton-Taylor: Kendra Kaylor 0, Skylar Crow 6, Claire Diede 3, Nevaek Tormaschy 0, Alayna Dressler 4, Ashlynn Christensen 6, Jenna Schutt 1, Lily Hixson 3, Eastyn Gebhardt 1, Kazanne Gjermundson 0.

New England: Emma Brock 16, Molly Wolf 6, Sam Volk 3, Hannah Frank 21, Madison Kirschemann 2, Jersey Binstock 6, Grace Dinius 3, Cait Admin 0, Hebbessie Clevenger 0, Messa Kuehl 1, Sophie Olsonawski 2, Tavion Clevenger 0.

Matthew Curry is a sports reporter and photographer for the West Central Tribune.
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