Jays pull the upsetThe No. 4-ranked Bismarck Demons tried their best, but there was simply no stopping Kyra Dewald and the Blue Jays in the second half of Saturday’s West Region girls basketball contest on Saturday night at the JHS gym.
By: Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun
The No. 4-ranked Bismarck Demons tried their best, but there was simply no stopping Kyra Dewald and the Blue Jays in the second half of Saturday’s West Region girls basketball contest on Saturday night at the JHS gym.
After holding the West’s leading scorer, Dewald, scoreless in the first half, the 5-foot-4 senior guard erupted for 17 second-half points, leading the Jays to their biggest win of the season to date in nail-biting fashion, 62-58.
“We were just all feeling it as a team and we knew we could push through the hardships,” Dewald said. “(Bismarck) was playing hard defense on me … I took advantage of every little thing they gave me.”
Trailing 58-57 with less than 30 seconds to play, the Blue Jays put the ball in Dewald’s hands for what turned out to be the team’s most important possession of the entire evening.
Dewald drove hard to the basket off a screen and was fouled on the shot by Bismarck’s Naomi Rust with 12 seconds left. Simultaneously, the Blue Jay fans exploded in celebration, as Dewald’s shot attempt fell through the cylinder.
She completed the 3-point play by making the free throw — her third successful 3-point conversion of the half — as the Jays went up 60-58 and never looked back. Dewald went 7 of 9 from the charity stripe in the half.
“(Dewald’s) played well all year,” JHS coach Andy Skunberg said. “She got into that early foul trouble and we knew it was going to be one of those grind-it-out games. We were kind of keeping her on the bench a little bit in that first half to protect her.
“(Bismarck) did a good job of defending her, but in the second half right away she came alive and that was the Dewald we’ve been seeing all year.”
Jamestown did lead 26-25 at the half, but there were plenty of possessions the team would have probably liked to have gotten back. The Jays looked rushed at times offensively, and turnovers played a large hand in the close score at the half.
Jamestown committed 17 turnovers in the game.
“We’ve been doing it all year. We’ve had turnover problems,” Skunberg said. “It’s one thing we’ve definitely got to clear up. It almost could have hurt us again tonight, but we battled back and played great team basketball and got the win here at home.”
The second half was a physical battle on both ends of the court. Neither team held a lead larger than 5 points over the final 18 minutes, and both teams were in the bonus with 11:30 still left to play.
The Jays hit plenty of big shots when they needed to, which included a clutch 3-pointer by McKayla Orr with 6:48 left as the Demons led 51-49.
Bismarck’s McKenzie Kiefer was a thorn in the Jays’ side all evening. The junior buried 4 treys in the game, the last of which put the Demons out front by 5 points again (56-51) with 2:48 to go. Kiefer led the Demons with 14 points.
“We knew they played physical. They get in your face, and it’s full court,” Skunberg said. “That’s what we like to do too. We just had to keep our composure and keep working for our open shots and hope we make some.”
Jamestown did just that down the stretch. Buckets by Dewald and Erin Mullowney, combined with perfect free-throw shooting from Billie Buchanan (2-for-2) and Miah Dabill (2-for-2), complemented Dewald’s game-changing 3-point play over the final 2 minutes.
Dabill ended the night scoring 12 points, while Paige Peterson posted 9 more.
“There’s never any quit in this team. They’re a veteran group now a little bit, and they know what we have to do,” Skunberg said. “I didn’t call any timeouts, to let them just play a little bit. Put the ball in Dewald’s hands, set a couple of screens and drive. Get a couple of ‘and-ones’ and that worked out in our favor tonight.”
Dewald completely understands what can come with a victory like Saturday’s.
“Confidence,” Dewald said. “That we can pretty much beat any team now, because (Bismarck is) one of the best.”
Jamestown (7-4, 5-3 West Region) hosts Turtle Mountain on Saturday.
“After losing the last couple of games, kind of giving them away a little bit, we needed to bounce back,” Kessler said. “Hopefully we can start getting on a roll here. We’ve got a busy month coming up, and this is a good start.”
Jamestown 62, Bismarck High 58
Bismarck 25 58
Jamestown 26 62
Bismarck — Rylee Meier 4, Ashley Hilzendeger 5, Courtney Trolliey 6, MacKayla Feeney 8, Keisha Engelhardt 12, McKenzie Kiefer 14, Naomi rust 7. Totals: 23-51 FG, 7-14 FT, 19 fouls (Meier), 32 rebounds (Rust 5), 19 turnovers. 3-pointers: (5-10) Kiefer 4, Feeney 1).
Jamestown — McKayla Orr 6, Rebekah Horgan 4, Kyra Dewald 17, Erin Mullowney 5, Paige Peterson 9, Miah Dabill 12, Billie Buchanan 5. Totals: 20-52 FG, 17-22 FT, 15 fouls, 35 rebounds (Peterson 4, Buchanan 4), 17 turnovers. 3-pointers: (3-8) Orr 2, Mullowney 1).
Records: Jamestown 7-4, 5-3 West Region; Bismarck 8-4, 7-2 West Region.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at 701-952-8461 or by email at