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Titans survive rematch against an improved Heart River team

With the Dickinson Trinity girls basketball team up 44-43 with two minutes to go against Heart River, Titans head coach Carter Fong called timeout. On the ensuing inbounds pass, senior forward Alexa Walby didn't hesitate, hurling the ball from th...

Heart River junior forward Afton Shypkoski drives into the paint while Dickinson Trinity senior guard Bre Tessier attempts to thwart her on Monday, Feb. 18, at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)
Heart River junior forward Afton Shypkoski drives into the paint while Dickinson Trinity senior guard Bre Tessier attempts to thwart her on Monday, Feb. 18, at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. (Shelby Reardon / The Dickinson Press)

With the Dickinson Trinity girls basketball team up 44-43 with two minutes to go against Heart River, Titans head coach Carter Fong called timeout.

On the ensuing inbounds pass, senior forward Alexa Walby didn't hesitate, hurling the ball from the baseline over eight heads and the red double-T at mid-court into the extended arm of sophomore forward Abbey Kubas.

Kubas caught the ball in stride and stepped just twice to convert the breakaway layup, before sealing the win with a pair of free throws. With the 48-43 victory over the Cougars in a Region 7 Tournament quarterfinal on Monday, Feb. 18, at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center, the No. 3 Titans advance to face No. 2 Bowman County in the semifinals on Tuesday.

"We had good possessions down the stretch," Fong said. "They were in a scramble situation. They needed to press and get the ball and make things happen. Alexa's heads-up pass over the top to Abbey for a layup was a great play that we've talked about all year long. We've said, if they're pressing and it's empty with no centerfield, you chuck that ball and she did and Abbey made the finish at the other end."

Kubas was a force to be reckoned with, scoring 22 points, while collecting 11 rebounds. Not only did she do her typical damage in the paint, but she even knocked down a pair of deep jumpers. Her numbers, including three assists, bested her performance the last time the Titans and Cougars met when she scored 18 points and earned seven boards.

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The last time the teams faced each other was on Jan. 17 on the same hardwood. On that occasion, the girls in red came away with a 53-32 victory. Fong said his team was under no illusion that it would repeat that showing.

Dickinson Trinity led since the 2:08 mark in the third after a baseline jumper from sophomore forward Amaya Willer, but the Cougars crept within a point on three occasions in the final frame.

There were moments when the No. 6 team had the opportunity to take the lead again, but either missed, or turned the ball over before even having the opportunity to shoot.

"We're afraid to shoot," Heart River head coach Ronnie Stewart said. "We got some girls that do want to. We need a couple of the girls to be a little more selfish with the ball because they're our most talented girls. We shouldn't be having to ask girls to shoot. That'll change. The girls are getting better, all it needs is a little bit more maturity."

Both teams were impressive on defense, as the Cougars collected four steals and forced 11 turnovers. The Titans also forced 11 turnovers, but came away with eight steals, four just from senior guard Bre Tessier. Tessier was in the right place at the right time, making a few snatches look like passes intended for her.

With 34 rebounds, Heart River outdid Dickinson Trinity on the boards. Sophomore guard Caylee Wilke led the team with 11 rebounds, eight on the defensive end.

"From the beginning of the season, we run for rebounds," Stewart said. "If we don't win the rebound, everyone that we're down, we have to run for. So the girls are taking it personal. That's what we asked them to do, because if you win the rebounding battle, there's a good chance you're gonna win the game."

Junior forward Afton Shypkoski paced the Cougars with 14 points, while sophomore forward Jersey Filkowski netted 10 and freshman forward Taylar Fagerberg and freshman forward Lelani Privratsky followed with seven.

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In the last quarter, it seemed any turnover, miss or surrendered rebound could have been what broke the barely-leading Titans, but the players kept their cool and battled under the pressure.

"We kind of just knew that in this regional tournament, every possession matters," Kubas said. "We knew to just play our game, not necessarily worry about the score, but to finish it out ... and we knew would win if we played our game."

Fong thinks his team executing the simple things is what gave the Titans the edge in the end.

"We talked about four things in the pregame that we thought would be keys and we did all four," he said. "We took care of the ball, we took care of each other and played like a team, we were smart, and we played with heart."

No. 3 Dickinson Trinity 49, No. 6 Heart River 43

HR 9 10 12 12

THS 8 12 16 12

HR: Afton Shypkoski 14, Jersey Filkowski 10, Taylar Fagerberg 7, Lelani Privratsky 7, Caylee Wilke 5.

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THS: Abbey Kubas 22, Kara Wanner 10, Amaya Willer 6, Bre Tessier 6, Kylen Kubas 2, Ali Daniel 2.

3-pointers: HR 2 (Privratsky, Shypkoski), THS 2-4 (Wanner 2-3). Free throws: HR 9-16, THS 10-18. Total fouls: HR 18, THS 14. Rebounds: HR 34 (Wilke 11), THS 32 (Kubas 12). Assists: HR 1 (McKenna Haverluk), TSH 5 (Kubas 3). Steals: HR 4 (Laken Jacobson), THS 8 (Tessier 4). Blocks: THS 1 (Kubas). Turnovers: HR 11, THS 11. Records: HR 13-10, THS 15-7.

Related Topics: HEART RIVER COUGARS
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