Spoilers advance to title game
Grafton 64 North Border 33
It didn’t take long for the theme of this game to play out. Pressure defense by the Spoilers. Grafton put the clamps on the North Border Eagles in both the full and half courts as the number one seed easily advanced to Monday’s championship game behind a stifling defensive effort.
On the offensive end it was Brooke Feltman (13 pts) who took over early. The senior center scored her team’s first six points. Kyla Horgan (8 pts) answered for the Eagles keeping this one close at 6-4 with a couple baskets inside. The Spoilers would go on a 20 to 4 run over the next eight minutes and with the second quarter just underway, this one seemed to be on the verge of being decided. The Spoilers were on fire as first half wound down. Alison Burns started nailing long 3-pointers (3 in the first half) to go along with a nifty steal at the half-court line, a behind-the-back dribble through traffic and a lay-in at the other end. That bucket made it 38 to 11. A Thompson basket at the buzzer closed out the first half with the Spoilers on top 40 to 15.
To start the second half Burns would hit yet another 3-pointer. Thompson would score twice more inside to make it 47-17. The quarter would end with the Spoilers on top 53 to 23.
The highlight of the fourth quarter came on a defensive play. Pulling down an errant Eagle shot, Cassie Thompson collected her 1,000th career rebound with four minutes to play in the game. Grafton would clear the bench at that point as the starters had done their job. With that win the Spoilers advanced to the championship game for the seventh time in the last nine years.
Allison Burns and Cassie Thompson would lead all scorers with 20 points each. Feltman followed with 13. Jillian Hanson added 4, Nicole Christianson 3, Lexi Lee and Jessica Burns each had 2.
North Border was led by Horgan and Madison Mathison who each had 8. Alayna Reck had 6, Ari Berg had 4, Madilyn Lafferty 3 and Jordan Lafferty 1.
Drayton-Valley-Edinburg 54 Midway-Minto 43
The Titans had just too much inside for the Mustangs to overcome. The inside presence of Kadee Gullickson (22 pts), Morgan Emanuelson and Kari Olson (11 pts) proved to be the difference maker in this second semifinal game Saturday night. The Titans controlled the offensive and defensive boards and were able to score inside to offset a scrappy Mustang effort.
In the closest contest of the tournament so far, both teams battled back and forth before a late Titan surge moved them on to the championship game. The Mustangs led early on a pair of free throws by Katie Bartuska. It didn’t last long. Ashley Reilly would hit a three on the Titans first shot. From there the Titans slowly but steadily built their lead. A pair of baskets inside by Gullickson and a Kari Olson 3-pointer pushed the Titans to a 16 to 9 advantage.
The Mustangs Mackenzie Irwin would get Midway-Minto back into this one. The sophomore would hit a three pointer and follow it up with a steal and lay-in to close the gap to 16 to 14. Gullickson would answer with three more baskets inside and with 1:40 to play in the half the Titans were up 24 to 18. A late basket by Irwin would close out the half with the Titans on top 24 to 20.
Bartuska would start the second half by putting on a shooting clinic. The senior would nail 3-pointers in the third quarter, scoring nine of the Mustangs twelve points. It would be enough to keep it close as Gullickson was just as hot from inside. Gullickson would score seven points of her own and Shayna Phelps added a 3-pointer to keep the Titans on top 36 to 32 after three.
In the fourth it was free throws that would win this one for the Titans. That and defense. The Titans went ten of twelve from the line in the final quarter while holding the Mustangs to just a pair of Helen Schuster free throws over a five minute span midway through the period. The 54 to 43 final propelled the Titans into the championship game where they will face off against Grafton. Midway-Minto will play PR-F-L in a region qualifier.
Gullickson would lead all scorers with 22 points. Titan teammates Kari Olson had 11, Phelps and Courtney Estad each had 7, Haley Braathen had 4 and Ashley Reilly 3. The Mustangs were paced by Bartuska’s 17. Schuster had 9, Irwin 7, Rachel Olson and Kelsey Altendorf each had 3 and Dominique Martinez and Faith Maendel each had 2.