Cards top Thunder in semis
She’s the team’s leading returning scorer, so it’s no secret Ellendale sharp-shooter Madilyn Bommersbach’s No. 23 is going to get called a lot this season.
The senior guard was again up to the challenge on Friday night at the Jamestown Civic Center.
Bommersbach went 3-for-5 from 3-point land and posted a game-high 22 points and 5 steals, en route to helping the Cardinals defeat the Medina-Pingree-Buchanan Thunder 69-50 in the semifinals of the Stutsman County girls basketball tournament.
Ellendale (6-1) will face Napoleon-Gackle-Streeter (5-3) in tonight’s championship game at 6:30.
“I’ve just got to work to get open, because (other teams) usually key on me,” Bommersbach said. “I just do what I’ve gotta do to score, because I know I can get to the basket quick or shoot a 3-pointer.”
She was the sparkplug Ellendale needed in the first period against the Thunder. She splashed home a pair of treys and converted a 3-point play while scoring 11 of Ellendale’s 22 first-period points.
The Cards led 22-15 after one and maintained its seven-point lead at the half, 36-29.
“I’ve been shooting it since junior high,” Bommersbach said of her long-range prowess. “I just feel like it comes naturally.”
But the Thunder weren’t about to bow out in the second half. M-P-B’s Thomas sisters, senior Morgan and sophomore Jordan, made their presence known after the break.
Jordan drilled back-to-back buckets, and Morgan swiped a steal and went the distance to eventually convert a 3-point play in transition, helping the Thunder knot that game at 38-all three minutes into the third.
“(The Thunder) had a heck of a run, and good teams come out and they make a run,” Ellendale coach Matt Herman said. “Of course we wish we wouldn’t have allowed it to get to where it was, but I can’t be happier with the way we responded to the run.
“They tied it up and we stepped it up.”
Senior Shayna Mertz scored two of her 11 points, and Bommersbach connected for her third trey of game to put the Cardinals out front by five (45-40). Ellendale also went a perfect 10-for-10 at the free-throw line in the third, helping the Cards to a 12-point, 57-45 lead to start the third.
“I would have never guessed that we were 78 percent free-throw shooting tonight, because I only remember the opportunities we missed,” Herman said. “I was never comfortable with the point spread, or the gap. That game did not feel at all like there was that margin of victory.”
“We made a run on them, and one big basket almost deflates you somewhat,” M-P-B coach Cory Mack said of Bommersbach’s third-period trey. “We’ve just got to keep playing the kind of defense we’re playing right now. The defense starts our offense, so we just have to key in on that.”
The Cardinals were hot from the get-go sinking over 53 percent of their shots in the first half. A host of those points came in transition, as the Thunder was unable to press their opponent into turnovers and easy buckets like they did against Edgeley-Kulm-Montpelier the night before.
“We should have just got back (on defense) probably earlier in the first half, but it’s early in the season and you’ve got to try something,” Mack said. “We’ve just got to keep working on the little things.”
A total of six turnovers in the first three minutes of the fourth sealed the Thunder’s fate, as Ellendale would eventually balloon its lead to the 19-point final margin of victory.
The Thomas girls both scored 13 to lead the Thunder. Ellendale outrebounded M-P-B 36-21, led by Isabel Wedell who posted 8 boards and 11 points.
Ellendale is expecting a similarly intense game today against the Imperials.
“We’ve just got to come out intense and keep that intensity throughout the whole game,” Bommersbach said. “That’s what we’ve been working on.”
Stutsman County Girls Basketball Tournament
At Jamestown Civic Center
No. 1 Ellendale 69, No. 4 Medina-Pingree-Buchanan 50
Ellendale 22 36 57 69
M-P-B 15 29 45 50
Ellendale – Madilyn Bommersbach 22, Shayna Mertz 11, Isabel Wedell 11, Dacey Fuller 9, Rachel Herman 8, KaLee Hack 4, Kirsten Rall 4. Totals: 22-51 FG, 21-27 FT, 3-pointers: 4-9 (Bommersbach 3, Herman 1), 36 Rebounds (Wedell 8), 12 Fouls, 7 Assists (Fuller 5), 19 Turnovers, 4 Blocks (4 with 1), 10 Steals (Bommersbach 5).
M-P-B – Jordan Thomas 13, Morgan Thomas 13, Courtney Heupel 8, Jenna Van Ray 6, Brooke Krapp 3, Jaycee Moldenhauer 3, Madi Moldenhauer 2, Lauren Moser 2. Totals: 18-48 FG, 10-10 FT, 3-pointers: 4-8 (M. Thomas 2, J. Moldenhauer 1, Krapp 1, 21 Rebounds (J. Thomas 8), 20 Fouls, 4 Assists (Heupel 2), 16 Turnovers, 13 steals (M. Thomas 4).
Records: Ellendale 6-1; M-P-B 4-2.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at email@example.com