Spoilers repeat bid falls short in semifinal game
Grafton to play MayPort CG in third place game
The Grafton Spoilers dreams of advancing to their second-straight North Dakota Class B Girls’ Basketball Tournament came to an abrupt end Tuesday when they fell to a determined Hillsboro-Central Valley team, 59-53 in the semifinals of the Region 2 tournament at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
Led by senior Taylor Henningsgard, who finished with 22 points, the Burros managed to stay one step ahead of Grafton and led for more than three quarters of the basketball game.
The Spoilers jumped out to an early 4-0 lead after opening baskets by Nicole Christinson and Cassie Thompson.
Led by Kennedy Henningsgard, who scored nine of her 14 points, the Burros rallied and led 17-14 after one quarter. H-CV took the lead for good on a basket by Rachel Murphy that made the score 15-13 with 1:33 to go in the first quarter.
The Burros scored only one field goal in the second quarter, but managed to penetrate to the basket and get to the free-throw line. H-CV made good on 7-of-8 free-throw attempts and at halftime held on to a 26-23 lead.
The defending region and state champion Spoilers made a pair of furious comeback attempts in the second half but were able to come no closer than two points on both occasions.
A 3-pointer by Taylor Henningsgard with with 4:46 to go in the third quarter staked the Burros to a 33-23 lead.
The Spoilers answered back with eight consecutive points in transition. Brooke Feltman capped the drive with her second layup of the run that made the score 33-31 in favor of H-CV with just over two minutes to go in the third quarter.
Just when it looked as if the Spoilers might surge to take the lead, Henningsgard scored on a pair of layups and made good on a 3-point play to get the Burros cushion back to seven points, 38-31.
The Spoilers seemed finished with 2:43 to go when Feltman fouled out of the game, but blazed back with eight-straight points on steals and layups by Christinson, Jiskra and two more by Thompson that made the score 52-48 in favor of the Burros with 1:38 to go.
H-CV again stopped the run with a pair of free throws by Kadie Doeden to make the score 54-48.
Jiskra gave the Spoilers one last hope with 26 seconds left in the contest when her trey cut the Burros lead to 55-53, but Taylor Henningsgard managed to hit four consecutive free throws in the closing seconds to give the Burros the 59-53 victory.
“Taylor would not let us lose the basketball game,” H-CV head coach Rick Sondrol said. “She kept us calm. There were a couple of times we were ready to crack, but she kept us focused and we were able to finish.”
Taylor and Kennedy Henningsgard were the two lone Burro players to hit double figures with 22 and 14 points, respectively. Murphy finished with nine, followed by Jessi Sundbom with eight and Doeden with six.
According to Grafton coach Laurie Sieben, the Spoilers lost some ground at the free-throw line.
“We fought back, but I think we struggled with our free-throws when we needed them,” she said.
The Spoilers finished the game shooting 8-for-15 from the line, good for 53 percent, but missed on 5-of-8 shots during a stretch in the late-third and early fourth quarter.
Thompson led Grafton with 18 points, followed by Feltman with 14.
Ali Burns added nine for Grafton, followed by Jiskra with five, Christinson with four, Jessica Burns with two and Jillian Hanson with one.
The win improved the Burros to 18-5 and a championship berth against Thompson. The Spoilers dropped to 18-6 and will play MayPort-CG Thursday at 6 p.m., for third place in the region.
“We need to bounce back and play our game on Thursday,” Sieben said.