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Defense sparks Century's win over Wahpeton in Class A girls quarters

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BISMARCK -- Bismarck Century had a season-high point total here Thursday. But it was on the other end of the basketball court that the Patriots were most excited about their performance.

Century ran away from Wahpeton 81-53 in the quarterfinals of the North Dakota Class A girls high school basketball tournament.

“Defense is always the big thing for us,’’ freshman center Lauren Ware said. “We’re really excited about how we played defense today. I think it’s one of our better defensive games of the year, going against a team like Wahpeton.’’

The Huskies were limited to shooting just 30 percent (16-of-54) from the floor in the loss. East Region senior player of the year Tylee Irwin had 25 points, as well as 10 rebounds, for the Huskies. But no other Wahpeton player had more than seven points. And Irwin was limited to 7-of-18 shooting from the field as Regan Dennis, Katelyn Selensky and Ware shared time defending her one-on-one with help from teammates.

“That was the key for us, coming out strong on defense,’’ Century coach Ron Metz said. “Irwin is very talented. You’re not going to play her one-on-one. We made sure everybody knew where she was to help out. We made her work to get those 25 points.’’

The Patriots led 37-20 at halftime and by as many as 36 points in the second half. The 6-foot-3 Ware had a double-double with 22 points and 14 rebounds to pace Century. “We don’t want her venturing too far from the basket. She has a great nose for the ball,’’ Metz said.

Ware’s height was a problem for the Huskies. “You have to make contact with her around the basket,’’ Wahpeton coach Brian Watson said. “We don’t have a lot of size and bulk. It’s tough to defense a team like that.’’

Lilly Keplin, going 4-of-6 on 3-point attempts, added 19 points, Dennis 15 and Maddie Klein 14. The Patriots were an efficient 53 percent shooting from the field.

“They’re a good team,’’ Watson said. “They’ve been ranked No. 1 most of the year. I don’t think we adjusted very well to their physicalness.  And they got their hands in there on our drives, hitting the ball. We didn’t handle that well.’’

Century advanced to the championship semifinals with a 21-4 record. Wahpeton dropped to 19-6.

Bismarck Century 81,

Wahpeton 53

WAH 20 33-53

CEN 37 44-81

Wahpeton -- Rhaeghn Gripentrog 6, Samantha Meyer 1, Amber Lingen 5, Jordan VanEps 2, Emily Schuster 2, Jordyn Kahler 7, Gena Cornelius 5, Tylee Irwin 25

Bismarck Century -- Allison Abel 3, Lexi Albers 2, Megan Anderson 2, Katelyn Selensky 2, Hannah Schwartz 2, Maddie Klein 14, Lauren Ware 22, Regan Dennis 15, Lilly Keplin 19