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Demons get past Hi-Liners

MINOT — Valley City made Bismarck High sweat out every minute on Thursday.

But the top-seeded Demons finally found their transition offense in the final 6 minutes, securing a 60-50 quarterfinal win at the Class A state girls basketball tournament at the municipal auditorium.

“We just couldn’t get anything going,” said Bismarck senior guard MacKenzie Kiefer, who finished with 14 points including two 3-pointers in the win. “We went down and played their game. They wanted to set up their offense and we like to transition. We did not play our transition game.”

But the Demons did just enough to advance to today’s 1 p.m. semifinal against Minot at the Minot State Dome.

Valley City falls into the 4 p.m. loser-out game against West Fargo.

“The last six minutes, it seemed like every little tip and bounce was heading Bismarck’s way,” Valley City coach Waylan Starr said. “We couldn’t offset that. We’d get a good steal, turn around and let them get a tip on the ball. Then deflect it and it would go back the other way.”

Keisha Engelhardt had game highs of 20 points and 12 rebounds, and Courtney Trolliey added 13 for the 20-2 Demons, who never trailed in the game despite only having a single-digit lead for most of the game. They led 28-22 at halftime.

“In the first half, our spacing was really bad,” Kiefer said. “It was better in the second half and we moved the ball well. We just couldn’t finish in the first half.”

Valley City was within two points a few different times, but its best opportunity was a four-point margin after Dierra Diegel scored three straight buckets with 10 minutes, 32 seconds remaining. She had a team-high 18 points in the loss.

The Hi-Liners also narrowed the deficit to six with 1:17 to go, but Bismarck answered with six straight points to nail down the win.

“Bismarck pushes the ball really well, but I thought we mirrored them both in the physical aspect and on the defensive end,” Starr said. “They adjusted in the second half. ... A little bounce here or there, it could have been a closer game.”

Bismarck 60, Valley City 50

Valley City 22 28 — 50

Bismarck 28 32 — 60

Valley City: Dierra Diegel 18, Clarissa Olson 10, Brenna Dieterle 9, Madison Taylor 7, Jessica Denholm 4, Danica Diegel 2. Totals 21-54 FG, 8-16 FT.

Bismarck: Keisha Engelhardt 20, McKenzie Kiefer 14, Courtney Trolliey 13, Kylee Leingang 5, Estee Schmidt 3, Taylor Mann 2, Ashlee Hilzendeger 2, Alison Fisher 1. Totals 24-56 FG, 9-19 FT.

Bismarck 28, VC 22. 3-pointers: VC 0-11, Bismarck 3-15 (Kiefer 2, Schmidt). Rebounds: VC 41 (Danica Diegel 9, Olson 9), B 37 (Engelhardt 12). Assists: VC 12 (Olson 3), B 18 (Hilzendeger 7). Fouls: VC 15, B 16. Fouled out: Danica Diegel 5. Turnovers: VC 23, B 15.

Sun sportswriter Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or