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Napoleon’s Mariah Jangula looks to pass against South Border’s Courtney Jochim on Friday night at the Civic Center. (John M. Steiner / The Sun)

N-G-S to play for title

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Not a player known to hit the long ball, Napoleon-Gackle-Streeter’s Mariah Jangula was tired of Friday night’s back-and-forth final period against the South Border Mustangs.

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The lead changed hands eight times in the final period of their semifinal matchup of the Stutsman County girls basketball tournament at the Jamestown Civic Center. But Jangula stepped up and made sure the lead stayed with the Imperials with 1 minute, 34 seconds left to play.

Her 3-pointer from the right wing put Napoleon-G-S out front 59-54, and that’s where they stayed as the Imperials defeated South Border 59-56. Napoleon-G-S will meet up with Ellendale in tonight’s championship game at 6:30.

“It was big. I’m not a very good outside shooter,” Jangula confessed after that game. “So it was big for our team. It gave our team a lead and that helped us win the game.”

Jangula is the lone senior and lone returning starter to a team that lost six seniors to graduation last year. The Imperials are the defending Region 3 champions and finished fourth at the state Class B girls basketball tournament last year with a record of 23-3.

That was the best finish in program history for Napoleon, but Jangula, who led her team with 25 points and 8 rebounds against the Mustangs, said the cupboard isn’t bare. The Imperials improved to 5-3 with Friday’s win.

“These girls have all stepped up majorly and I’m so proud of them,” Jangula said. “We lost a lot of players, but we’re proving people wrong and it’s going to be a good season.”

The Mustangs came out strong to start the game and led 37-31 at the half behind hot 3-point shooting and a 13-for-16 performance at the free-throw line. Freshman Madison Schnabel hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the first and freshman Brooke Buchholz drilled another trey in the second to put the Mustangs ahead by 10 (37-27) with 1:36 left in the half.

But South Border was unable to keep up the hot shooting after the break.

“We just quit in the third quarter,” South Border coach Jason Schmidt said. “I don’t know if we got tired or what. We missed a lot of layups and we missed a lot of free throws.”

The Imperials cut the lead to 42-41 to start the fourth behind 6 points from Jangula, which set up the see-saw battle in the fourth that was finally put to rest by Jangula’s trey.

“It pretty much all started with defense,” Napoleon-G-S coach Darcy Lehr said. “We didn’t want them to get wide-open 3’s like they were. We weren’t doing a good job of reacting to reverses and skip passes.

“We were able to get a little bit more hands in their face to get them to miss some of those shots in the second half.”

Shania Gross hit a trey in the final period, and Jangula scored 9 of her 25. Gross finished with 16 points.

“Mariah’s definitely taken a big leadership role this year. She’s are only returning starter from last year,” Lehr said. “So she’s really taking the initiative this year to be our leader and be our go-to person.”

The Mustangs went just 2-for-7 at the free-throw line in the final period, and senior leader Kalli Scherbenske fouled out in the closing seconds after posting 9 points, 5 boards and 3 steals.

Morgan Schnabel finished with 15 points and 8 rebounds for the Mustangs.

South Border moves on to face Medina-Pingree-Buchanan for third today at 5 p.m.

“We just have to go play our game,” Schmidt said. “No turnovers. We’ve got to make layups and we’ve got to make free throws and play defense, just basic fundamentals.”

Lehr knows his team will have their hands full with No. 1 seed Ellendale in tonight’s title tilt. The Imperials ended Ellendale’s season last year in the Region 3 championship game.

“They’re probably the best team in the region,” Lehr said of the Cardinals. “They’ve got everybody back … very athletic, very good posts. It’s just going to be a challenge.

“We’re going to try and compete.”

Stutsman County Girls Basketball Tournament

At Jamestown Civic Center

Friday’s semifinals

No. 3 Napoleon-Gackle-Streeter 59, South Border 56

South Border 19 37 42 56

Napoleon-G-S 13 31 41 59

South Border – Morgan Schnabel 15, Brooke Buchholz 9, Madison Schnabel 9, Kalli Scherbenske 9, Courtney Jochim 8, Raechelle Salzer 4, Amy Jacobson 2. Totals: 18-65 FG, 16-27 FT, 3-pointers: 4-11 (Morgan Schnabel 3, Buchholz 1), 45 Rebounds (Morgan Schnabel 8), 15 Fouls (Scherbenske), 7 Assists (Scherbenske 2, Madison Schnabel 2), 16 Turnovers, 4 Blocks (Morgan Schnabel 2), 6 Steals (Scherbenske 3).

Napoleon-G-S – Mariah Jangula 25, Shania Gross 16, Katelyn Long 8, Kali Schwartzenberger 6, Callie Thompson 4. Totals: 22-58 FG, 9-15 FT, 3-pointers: 6-10 (Gross 3, Schwartzenberger 2, Jangula 1), 36 Rebounds (Long 8, Jangula 8), 18 Fouls (Schwartzenberger), 5 Assists (5 with 1), 14 Turnovers, 6 Blocks (Long 4), 9 Steals (Long 3).

Records: Napoleon-G-S 5-3; South Border 4-2.

Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at masavaloja@jamestownsun.com

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