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Saints end Jays' season

Jamestown's Olivia Nihill feels the heat Saturday from Abbi Kopp of St. Mary's during the WDA tournament at the Bismarck Civic Center. John M. Steiner / The Sun1 / 3
Jamestown's Megan Gaffaney takes a slap in the arm Saturday by Sydney Smith of St. Mary's during the WDA tournament at the Bismarck Civic Center. Also looking on is Taylor Gerving. John M. Steiner / The Sun2 / 3
Jamestown's Jessica Walter goes to the net Saturday near Maria Mann of St. Mary's during the WDA tournament at the Bismarck Civic Center. John M. Steiner / The Sun3 / 3

BISMARCK—Tonya Dvorak gave Jamestown High School an early wake-up call Saturday morning, March 3, at the Bismarck Event Center.

The St. Mary's 6-foot-1 senior picked the Blue Jays' pocket for the breakaway layup to open the scoring in a state-qualifying game of the West Region tournament. The Saints never trailed in a 61-45 victory over Jamestown, and are headed to the state tournament for the first time since 1998.

"That feels awesome to get that monkey off the back and finally get to go," said St. Mary's coach Shannon Copas. "We knocked on the door a couple times the last two years and finally we were able to get through that door."

The loss ended the Blue Jays' season one game shy of the Fargodome at 14-10.

St. Mary's size gave the Blue Jays fits all morning. Senior center Kaitlyn Wanner pulled in six of 15 offensive rebounds corralled by the Saints.

"We knew that we had the ability to get it inside a little bit because there's a mismatch there," Copas said. "We wanted to make sure defensively we were out on the perimeter because Jamestown was a little faster."

The Saints got out to their largest lead of the day at 29-11 late into the first half. Jamestown trimmed the lead down to 12 at halftime.

"They do such a good job of defending," said Jamestown coach Andy Skunberg. "They're long, lengthy and big. That's three games in a row we scored mid-40s on them."

The Blue Jays set up defensively in a 1-3-1 zone for the entire second half.

"We've played it some but not a lot," Skunberg said. "We haven't had a lot of practice with it but for stepping out and playing zone I thought we did a good job."

Jamestown got fouled early in the second half, sending the Blue Jays to the line where they converted just 12 of 20 freebies.

St. Mary's closed out the contest with free throws to seal its first state tourney berth in 20 years.

The Jays' Megan Gaffaney fouled out late in the fourth quarter, which caused a domino effect of pulling out senior starters Alyssa Ukestad and Olivia Nihill.

"Those three seniors are the epitome of hard work," Skunberg said. "They fly around, work hard in practice and hopefully the underclassmen see that, learn from that and do it next year."

Courtney Peterson led the way for Jamestown with 13 points, including a perfect 8 of 8 from the free-throw line. Gaffaney scored 10—eight in the first half—and collected six rebounds, while Ukestad contributed nine points.

Jamestown's second-and third-leading scorers, Peterson and sophomore Kameron Selvig, will be returning next season. Katherine Horgan and Jessica Walter will also be returning to the paint. Sophomore Jessa Anderson averaged 12 minutes during the West Region tournament for the Jays—well above her average.

"We got our scorers back, but we're losing defense," Skunberg said. "We need to have some players fill the role of being defenders because we got to stop some teams, too."

St. Mary's 61, Jamestown 45

JAM 22 23 -- 45

ST 34 27 -- 61

JAM—Courtney Peterson 13, Megan Gaffaney 10, Alyssa Ukestad 9, Jess Anderson 3, Katherine Horgan 3, Kameron Selvig 1. Totals: FG 12-41, 2-12 3-PT, 19-28 FT, 35 Rebounds, 20 Fouls (Gaffaney), 21 Turnovers.

ST—Taylor Gerving 18, Tonya Dvorak 15, Marriann Senftner 11, Kaitlyn Wanner 6, Hallie Schweitzer 5, Abbi Kopp 4, Sydney Smith 2. Totals: 20-62 FG, 3-15 3-PT (Gerving), 18-23 FT, 43 Rebounds (Wanner 9, Dvorak 8), 25 Fouls, 15 Turnovers, 11 Steals.

Records: JAM 14-10. ST 19-5.

Mitchell Johnson

Hometown: Enumclaw, WA; College: Central Washington University

(360) 918-1853