Champs advance: Midkota, Ellendale to square off todayThe Ellendale Cardinal girls basketball team that took the floor of the Jamestown Civic Center on Thursday night was not the flock of birds those in attendance were expecting to see.
By: By Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
The Ellendale Cardinal girls basketball team that took the floor of the Jamestown Civic Center on Thursday night was not the flock of birds those in attendance were expecting to see.
But even without three of its regular starters in the lineup, Ellendale began its opening round game of the Stutsman County tournament so smooth it was hardly even noticeable.
The Cards knocked down a blistering 50 percent of its shots in the first half, Ellendale junior guard Madilyn Bommersbach smoked 21 points through the net, and Ellendale rolled into tonight’s semifinals with a 55-32 victory over the Central Prairie Firebirds.
“I was confident going eight-deep coming into this game, so being out three I was confident with where I was at,” Ellendale coach Matt Herman said. “What we saw tonight is a product of our efforts in the summer. We go to summer league in Aberdeen, we go to team camps … and those kids that got a lot of playing time tonight get playing time in those opportunities.
“It paid off, when we’re in a situation like we’re in.”
Out of the lineup were junior starters Shayna Mertz, Rachel Herman and KaLee Hack. Mertz’s injury is the most serious as she’ll likely miss the rest of the season after suffering an ACL injury the last time the Cardinals and the Mustangs met back on Jan. 3, a game Ellendale won 47-41.
Rachel Herman will miss at least two weeks with torn ligaments in her right foot, while Hack is day-to-day with flu-like symptoms. Hack was in uniform for Thursday’s game, but had missed the last two days of school and didn’t check into the game.
Turnovers, and Bommersbach, plagued Central Prairie in the first half. Bommersbach drilled a trey and scored 8 of the Cards’ 17 first-period points, helping Ellendale lead 17-4 after one. Central Prairie recorded 9 of its 12 turnovers of the first half in the first 8 minutes.
Bommersbach went on to go 4-of-4 from the free-throw line in the second, and she and Dacey Fuller teamed up to hit back-to-back three-pointers late in the second, as Ellendale took a commanding 32-11 advantage at the half.
Bommersbach was hot all night, going 6-of-8 from the field, 4-of-5 from 3-point range and 5-of-6 from the charity stripe.
“She’s added to her game,” Herman said of the 5-foot-6 guard. “She’s rebounding better, she’s cutting down on the turnovers and she’s developed a bit of a penetration game. So yeah, she’s made a lot of improvements.”
Filling in with Fuller and Bommersbach — the regular starters — were freshman Isabel Wedell, and sophomores Kirsten Rall and Monica Hofer. Wedell nearly missed a double-double with 14 points and 9 rebounds, while Rall scored 4 and pulled down 6 boards.
But where Rall shined was on defense. She held Central Prairie’s top threat, senior Noelle Moser, scoreless in the ball game.
Central Prairie was led by Jaycee Moldenhauer with 11 points.
Ellendale improved to 6-2 on the season with the win, and will face Midkota in tonight’s semifinals at 7:30, weather permitting. Midkota outrebounded South Border 40-25 in a 60-29 victory in the final quarterfinal game of the night, and Herman was paying attention.
“We’re going to have to have a Herculean effort on the boards,” Herman said
Midkota 60, South Border 29
When it’s rolling, Midkota’s offense is as entertaining to watch as any other in the current world of North Dakota Class B girls basketball.
Solid ball handling and attention to the court transforms itself into flashy passes into the post and easy buckets for the likes of Midkota’s Emily Berge and Shaye Ronningen.
After carving out a 34-15 lead at the half, it was those types of quick-thinking passes by Midkota guards Saddie Harding and Callie Harding that put the game away.
Saddie and Callie each carved a pass through the South Border defense like a knife through butter, connecting with Berge for back-to-back buckets to open the third.
Saddie later found Ronningen in the paint with another highlight reel pass, as the Midkota Mustangs opened the frame on a 9-3 run and never looked back.
“We try to do a lot of up-tempo stuff in practice and kind of let (Saddie and Callie) freelance out of that, trying to encourage that. To get them to make those passes,” Midkota coach Kyle Frappier said. “We’ve always seen that with them, but we’re finally starting to see it on the floor now.”
Callie finished with 5 assists and 5 points, while Saddie posted 4 assists and 9 points. Not staggering stats, but that’s all Midkota needed out of them to level their season record at 2-2 and advance to tonight’s semifinals against Ellendale.
With limited resources on its bench, Midkota played a smart game by only committing 1 foul in the first period while holding the Mustangs to just 2 field goals. Midkota also forced the South Border into 10 of its 27 turnovers in the game in the first, aiding a 16-4 Midkota lead after one period.
Ronningen was playing her second game after missing the beginning of the season with an ankle injury and finished with 16 points.
“You can tell that she’s just mentally not 100 percent on that leg, not trusting it completely yet I don’t think,” Frappier said. “She’s not going real hard to the basket yet, but she’ll get there.”
Berge posted another huge game, posting a double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds.
“I think Emily is finally starting to realize how athletic she is and what she can do on the basketball floor,” Frappier said. “She’s a tremendously athletic girl. She’s a great defender, she’s a great rebounder, now she’s starting to trust herself offensively.”
Madison Schnabel led South Border scoring 10 points in the first half and 16 points in the game. South Border was limited to just 4 two-point field goals over the entire second half, getting its other 6 points at the free-throw line.
Both teams committed over 20 turnovers, but 11 of 41 shooting by South Border made the difference.
Midkota, the defending tournament champs, should have their hands full today vs. Ellendale.
“It looks like they’ve got some girls they can bring off the bench and play,” Frappier said. “We’re kind of excited to play them, I know they’re not going to be at full strength, but it looks like they play hard and they do stuff right and it’s going to be a tough game for us.
“We’re going to have to be ready to play.”
No. 2 Ellendale 55, No. 7 Central Prairie 32
Central Prairie 4 11 19 32
Ellendale 17 32 46 55
Central Prairie – Jaycee Moldenhauer 11, Madison Moldenhauer 8, Lauren Moser 6, Courtney Heupel 4, Jordan Spitzer 3. Totals: 13-44 FG, 6-13 FT, 30 rebounds (M. Moldenhauer 7, Noelle Moser 7), 11 fouls, 7 assists (Heupel 4), 23 turnovers, 3 blocks (J. Moldenhauer 2), 13 steals (3 with 3). Three-pointers: (0-10).
Ellendale – Madilyn Bommersbach 21, Isabel Wedell 14, Dacey Fuller 12, Kirsten Rall 4, Kaitlyn Schmike 2, Kirsten Stoppleworth 2. Totals: 19-43 FG, 12-15 FT, 29 rebounds (Wedell 9), 8 fouls, 17 assists (Fuller 7), 17 turnovers, 3 blocks (3 with 1), 13 Steals (Fuller 5). Three-pointers: (5-7) Bommersbach 4, Fuller 1.
Records: Ellendale 6-2; Central Prairie 1-3.
No. 3 Midkota 60, No. 6 South Border 29
South Border 4 15 20 29
Midkota 16 34 49 60
South Border – Madison Schnabel 16, Kalli Scherbenske 4, Brooke Buchholz 4, Blaire Schnabel 2, Morgan Schnabel 2, Lora Horner 1. Totals: 11-41 FG, 7-16 FT, 25 rebounds (M. Schnabel 9), 10 fouls, 8 assists (Buchholz 3), 27 turnovers, 4 blocks (Scherbenske 2), 10 steals (Buchholz 3). Three-pointers: (0-4)
Midkota – Emily Berge 22, Shaye Ronningen 16, Saddie Harding 9, Brooke Ronningen 5, Callie Harding 5, Jade Boote 2, McKenna Frappier 1. Totals: 24-53 FG, 10-15 FT, 40 rebounds (Berge 11), 13 fouls, 19 assists (C. Harding 5, S. Harding 5, Berge 4), 21 turnovers, 5 blocks (Berge 3), 19 steals (C. Harding 5, Berge 5). Three-pointers: (2-8) B. Ronningen 1, S. Harding 1.
Records: Midkota 2-2; South Border 1-4.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at email@example.com