Midkota holds on: Mustangs top Ellendale, punch ticket to Stutsman title tiltA win is a win, but the disappointment in the voice of Midkota girls basketball coach Kyle Frappier was palpable following semifinal night of the Stutsman County Girls Basketball Tournament at the Jamestown Civic Center on Saturday.
By: Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun
A win is a win, but the disappointment in the voice of Midkota girls basketball coach Kyle Frappier was palpable following semifinal night of the Stutsman County Girls Basketball Tournament at the Jamestown Civic Center on Saturday.
The Mustangs used 5-for-8 shooting from 3-point range to build a 30-18 halftime lead over Ellendale, only to see that lead diminished by a determined group of Cardinals over the final 16 minutes.
What stood out the most was a 2-for-6 effort at the free-throw line by the Mustangs over the final minute of play, as Ellendale nearly fought back from a 10-point, fourth-period hole to steal the victory.
Ellendale sophomore Monica Hofer splashed home a last-second 3-pointer at the buzzer, but the Mustangs held on to keep their back-to-back title hopes alive with a 57-55 victory.
“For us to be a top 10-caliber team you’ve got to handle situations like that, and we didn’t handle it very well,” Frappier said. “I was kind of disappointed in that. A win is a win, but it’s an ugly win.”
The victory sets up a rematch of last year’s Stutsman County title game between the Mustangs and the Napoleon Imperials. Napoleon, ranked No. 3 in the state, dispatched Carrington’s JV squad 60-46 in the first semifinal game of the day, setting up a shot at winning three Stutsman titles in the team’s four years competing in the tournament.
Midkota won last year’s title game over the Imperials by the final of 64-58.
The wintry weather over the weekend has in turn wiped out today’s seventh-place and third-place contests due to scheduling conflicts. Ellendale was awarded third in the tournament, as Carrington will need its full team today in Velva.
The varsity players that were not playing for Carrington’s JV squad in Jamestown were the team’s five seniors.
A total of two games will be played at the Civic Center tonight, starting with the consolation championship between South Border and Pingree-Buchanan-Kensal at 6, followed by the championship at 7:30.
Midkota started Saturday’s game against Ellendale on fire, as a pair of 3-pointers from Saddie Harding and another by Brooke Ronningen as time expired in the first handed the Mustangs a commanding 20-9 advantage to start the second.
Ellendale was forced into 10 turnovers in the opening 8 minutes, and missed its first 6 shots of the game — including a pair of 3-point attempts. Callie Harding got into the act for Midkota in the second, drilling a pair of 3-pointers of her own.
“We didn’t get out on their shooters in the first half like we wanted to and gave up too many uncontested 3’s,” Ellendale coach Matt Herman said. “That largely contributed to that 12-point deficit we saw at halftime. If we could have got out and contested a few of those, maybe we’d have had a different outcome.”
The Cardinals went just 7-for-28 from the field in the first half. After being red-hot in Thursday’s quarterfinals, Ellendale junior Madilyn Bommersbach cooled off and went 0-for-4 from beyond the arc and 2-for-10 from the field in the opening two quarters.
Sophomore forward Kirsten Rall stepped up big for Ellendale in the second half, hitting a trey and scoring 7 points during a 13-3 run by Ellendale that cut the Cards’ deficit to 43-41 with 7:22 left in the final period of play.
The run started with just under 2 minutes to go in the third. Midkota led 42-36 at the end of three.
Rall, however, would foul out later in the fourth, and Ellendale’s KaLee Hack was still visibly battling the flu. The Cardinals are still missing starters Shayna Mertz and Rachel Herman to injuries.
“They’re a good team. They’re scrappy and they come at you, and we knew they would,” Frappier said. “We got absolutely outhustled.”
Midkota’s Shaye Ronningen scored 15 of her game-high 20 points in the second half, keeping the Mustangs’ heads above water. But it was Emily Berge scoring 6 of her 11 points during a 10-0 Midkota run that pushed the lead back to 10 at 51-41 with 3:46 to go.
Berge posted another double-double of 11 points and a game-high 16 rebounds.
“They made a run at us in the third quarter and we kind of responded and got back up by 10,” Frappier said. “Thank God we had a 10-point cushion to hold them off at the end.”
Bommersbach tossed in 7 of her 16 points — including a timely 3-pointer — which was nearly enough for the Cards to fight back and win as Midkota struggled at the free-throw line down the stretch.
Dacey Fuller hit 3 treys in the game for Ellendale and also finished scoring 16 points.
“I’m pleased with the effort. (Midkota) is a quality team,” Herman said. “They shot 3’s like we did on the first night.
“I was surprised by the seeding. I didn’t think that they should be the No. 3 seed,” Herman continued. “I thought they probably had an opportunity to be the No. 2 seed. But I guess it plays out that way in the end.”
Both teams committed over 20 turnovers in the game. Midkota wound up shooting a respectable 46 percent from the field, as they move on to face the Imperials.
“They’ll put a lot of defensive pressure on us and try to turn us over,” Frappier said. “That’s one of the things we’re going to have to handle. We know that’s coming at us.
“If nothing else it’ll be a good learning experience for us. If we don’t handle it very well we’ll go back home and work on it,” Frappier said. “But like I told the Napoleon coach (Darcy Lehr), we want to play them. We want to play good teams. That’s the only way we are going to get better.”
With plenty of sickness and injury to go around, the Cardinals aren’t necessarily disappointed to not return to Jamestown tonight for a third-place contest.
“The way we’re banged up and run down, practice would be better for us on Monday I think anyway,” Herman said.
Stutsman County Tournament
At Jamestown Civic Center
No. 3 Midkota 57, No. 2 Ellendale 55
Midkota 20 30 42 57
Ellendale 9 18 36 55
Midkota — Shaye Ronningen 20, Saddie Harding 14, Emily Berge 11, Brooke Ronningen 7, Callie Harding 5. Totals: 20-44 FG, 12-19 FT, 35 rebounds (Berge 16), 14 fouls, 17 assists (S. Harding 4, B. Ronningen 4), 24 turnovers, 5 blocks (Berge 3), 12 steals (S. Harding 5, S. Ronningen 4). Three-pointers: (5-12). S. Harding 3, C. Harding 1. B. Ronningen 1.
Ellendale — Madilyn Bommersbach 16, Dacey Fuller 16, Kirsten Rall 9, Isabel Wedell 9, Monica Hofer 5. Totals: 19-55 FG, 10-12 FT, 29 rebounds (Hofer 9), 15 fouls (Rall), 9 assists (Fuller 4), 22 turnovers, 9 steals (Rall 3). Three-pointers: (7-15) Fuller 3, Bommersbach 2, Hofer 1, Rall 1.
Records: Midkota 3-2; Ellendale 6-3.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at email@example.com