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JIMMIES UPSET: Vikings top UJ women in NSAA title game

University of Jamestown's Paige Emmel looks past the defensive pressure of Alli Vandal (20) and Lexi Lennon of Valley City Sunday during the NSAA championship game at Harold Newman Arena. John M. Steiner / The Sun1 / 2
University of Jamestown's Marina Nowak (25) collides with Alli Vandal of Valley City on her way to the basket during the NSAA championship game at the Harold Newman Arena. John M. Steiner / The Sun2 / 2

Kennedy Henningsgard's final seven minutes Sunday, Feb. 25, at Harold Newman Arena made the difference.

The Valley City State University senior guard converted 7 of 7 at the foul line and produced nine of the final 12 points scored by the Vikings in the championship game of the North Star Athletic Association women's basketball conference tournament.

Valley City State won the NSAA tournament title 63-57 over rival University of Jamestown.

"Lot's of emotions right now. I'm so happy how our team performed," Henningsgard said. "We came and did what we were supposed to do.

"Everyone played their role, we executed well and we're conference champions."

The seventh-ranked Jimmies nearly stole the victory after trailing throughout and struggling all afternoon from the field. Jamestown senior guard McKayla Orr scored 10 of her 12 second-half points to help cut a 31-23 halftime deficit to just 48-47 in the final quarter.

The Jimmies would get as close as one point twice more over the final seven minutes, the latter at 58-57 with 60 seconds left on the clock. But by then Henningsgard was already warmed up at the free-throw line.

Henningsgard sank 4 of 4 freebies down the stretch to put the championship game on ice. She finished with a game-high 17 points, as the Vikings sank 23 of 26 at the stripe all told.

"You gotta give them (Valley City) credit," said University of Jamestown women's basketball coach Greg Ulland. "I thought they played well. They made all the hustle plays—that first half it seemed like every loose ball they got."

Jamestown's offense also couldn't buy a bucket, going 6 of 26 from the field in the first half and 4 of 28 from beyond 3-point range in the game. Valley City State senior standout Lexi Lennon sparked the visitors early with a pair of first-half 3-pointers and 10 of her 13 points at the break.

"The first half we rushed a few of them, but we had a lot of good looks I thought," Ulland said of the Jimmies' long-range shooting woes. "At times if we could have knocked one down all the momentum goes our way, but I don't want to take anything away from (Valley City). I thought they had a nice night."

Senior Paige Emmel connected from downtown and scored eight of her 13 points after the break for Jamestown, which was outrebounded 51-35.

"That's wanting it more," Ulland said. "We get outrebounded by 16? That's not good, I don't care how small we are."

The Jimmies are still noticeably trying to find an answer in place of injured 2018 NSAA most valuable player Bryn Woodside. The senior point guard was in uniform wearing a custom knee brace and checked into Saturday's 80-61 semifinal victory over Mayville State.

Woodside previously said surgery on the torn ACL in her right knee won't take place until later this spring.

University of Jamestown will now shift its focus to the NAIA Division II national tournament, which begins March 7 in Sioux City, Iowa. The tournament bracket will be revealed Wednesday, Feb. 28, at 6 p.m.

The Jimmies have earned an at-large bid to nationals, while the Vikings will receive the NSAA's automatic berth.

"We still need time," Ulland said. "We've made some adjustments but we need another week-and a-half of practice just to get an identity back.

"I'm just glad the season's not over," the coach added. "I don't want to be done with these kids. They play hard and it's a fun group to be around."

NSAA women's basketball conference tournament

At Newman Arena

Sunday's championship

(16) Valley City State 63, (7) Jamestown 57

Valley City St. 18 31 44 63

Jamestown 14 23 38 57

Valley City St.—Kennedy Henningsgard 17, Mackenzie Huber 14, Lexi Lennon 13, Hannah Schlecht 8, Alli Vandal 6, Kate Williams 3, Paige Meyer 2. Totals: 19-59 FG, 23-26 FT, 2-16 3-pointers (Lennon 2), 51 Rebounds (Huber 9), 23 Fouls (Williams), 8 Assists (Henningsgard 3), 15 Turnovers, 2 Blocks, 5 Steals (Lennon 2).

Jamestown—McKayla Orr 16, Paige Emmel 13, Jenna Doyle 9, Jory Mullen 6, Mercedes Baumgartner 5, Marina Nowak 3, Maya Buffetta 2, Allison Jablonsky 2, Mackenzie Sparby 1. Totals: 17-59 FG, 19-27 FT, 4-28 3-pointers (Emmel 2, Orr, Baumgartner), 35 Rebounds (Nowak 8), 20 Fouls, 8 Assist (Mullen 3), 11 Turnovers, 7 Blocks (Doyle 3), 6 Steals (Emmel 2).

Records: Valley City St. 26-4. Jamestown 29-4.

Saturday's semifinals

(7) Jamestown 80, Mayville State 61

Mayville St. 14 27 43 61

Jamestown 17 43 52 80

Mayville St.—Andi Gayner 20, Joelle Ertl 17, Naomi Torgerson 10, Karleigh Weber 5, Andrea Skillingstand 4, Haley Anderson 3, Claire Blascziek 2. Totals: 21-57 FG, 13-21 FT, 6-22 3-pointers (Ertl 2, Gayner, Torgerson, Weber, Anderson), 29 Rebounds (Ertl 7, Toregerson 7), 4 Blocks (Gayner 3), 9 Steals (Gayner 4), 12 Assists (Ertl 4), 18 Fouls, 17 Turnovers.

Jamestown—McKayla Orr 12, Mackenzie Sparby 12, Marina Nowak 11, Allison Jablonsky 10, Mya Buffetta 6, Jenna Doyle 6, Emma Stoehr 6, Mercedes Baumgartner 6, Jory Mullen 5, Paige Emmel 4, Courtney Mosloski 2. Totals: 28-59 FG, 13-17 FT, 11-20 3-pointers (Buffett 2, Jablonsky 2, Stoehr 2, Baumgartner 2, Orr, Mullen, Emmel), 42 Rebounds (Sparby 9), 5 Blocks (Doyle 4), 16 Steals (Orr 4), 18 Fouls, 20 Turnovers.

Records: Jamestown 29-3. Mayville State 20-9.

Michael Savaloja

Hometown: Churchs Ferry, N.D.; College: North Dakota

A recipient of the NDHSCA Award of Merit, Savaloja has been reporting sports for The Sun since 2008.

Follow on Twitter: @MichaelSavaloja

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