Irwin leads Class A girls over Class B in Lions All-Star game
FARGO—Even surrounded by all-stars Tylee Irwin stood out. The South Dakota State commit led Class A girls to a 67-64 win and a sweep over Class B in the Lions All-Star basketball series at the Fargo Civic Center on Tuesday, July 11.
Irwin finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds, showing why she was North Dakota's Miss Basketball. Class A topped Class B 77-74 to make it back-to-back sweeps of Class B. The game plan for Class A was to have the ball in Irwin's hands at crunch time.
"Our game plan both games was to get her in at the end for the last five or six minutes," Class A and Bismarck Legacy coach Jim Petrik said. "We wanted her in there. She's a big-time player. She helped settle our nerves a little bit when Class B made their run. With her in the game, she's a playmaker, who can score herself and get the rest of her teammates involved. I'm happy we held on. It was kind of ugly down the stretch, but in an all-star game you (have) to expect some of that."
Class A had an 18-point lead at half, but took more than seven minutes to hit its first shot in the second half. Class B capitalized, using an 18-2 to cut the lead to 48-46. Irwin subbed in, got a rebound on the defensive end and found Emily Dietz with a perfect pass underneath for a layup. Irwin forced a turnover on the ensuing Class B possession and Akealy Moton sank 3-pointer to push the lead to 53-48.
"It's nice to play with girls you've played with throughout high school and make new relationships," Irwin said. "It was just a fun game."
Irwin drilled a 3-pointer of her own to make it 56-48. She helped lead a 14-5 run to push Class A's lead to 62-51. Class B would answer with a 12-3 run with seven of those points coming from Maara Nelson. After missing two free throws, Irwin hustled for the rebound and forced a Class B turnover to get the possession back. She found Faith Dionne underneath to push the lead to 65-60 with two minutes to go.
"To end your high school career in an all-star game it's an honor," Irwin said. "It was a just nice way to end our careers. You want to go out there and do your best. Obviously, neither team was going to give up. Both teams are going to give it their all the whole time, especially with the rivalry between Class A and Class B."
A 3-point play from Nelson cut the lead to 65-63 with 1 minute, 34 seconds to go. Irwin lost the ball on the inbounds pass, but swatted Peyton Halverson as she went in for the tying layup. Class B had a shot to tie, but missed the jumper and Irwin was there for the rebound. She split a pair of free throws with 2.1 seconds to go and Class B's inbounds pass, looking for a full-court miracle, didn't find anyone.
"Irwin is just such a heck of a player that you can do so much with her," Petrik said. "We put her at the point. We put her in the post. We tried to use her in as different ways as we could. She's going to have a heck of a career at South Dakota State."
Irwin did everything in her final high school game. That's exactly what she plans to work on for the next level.
"Everything is faster and girls are stronger, so you have to work on everything," Irwin said.
Half: Class A, 46, Class B 28
Class A: Irwin 14, DuBois 8, Moton 6, Dietz 5, Davis 1, Baumgarter 11, Feland 6, Dionne 13, Dub 3.
Class B: Breckheimer 2, Burns 2, Reinke 7, Hiatt 2, Nelson 14, Beneda 2, Kvilvang 16, Wolfe 15, Sparby 4.