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STUTSMAN CHAMPS: Cardinals top Thunder

Carrington's McKenzie Johnson (11) brings the ball up the court with pressure applied by M-P-B's Brittney Reister on Saturday during the championship game of the Stutsman County tournament at the Jamestown Civic Center. John M. Steiner / The Sun1 / 3
M-P-B's Amanda Allen jumps to the basket Saturday in front of Carrington's Lexus Page during the championship game of the Stutsman County tournament at the Jamestown Civic Center. John M. Steiner / The Sun2 / 3
Carrington's Hannah Hagel (35) wrestles for the ball with M-P-B's Brittney Reister on Saturday during the championship game of the Stutsman County tournament at the Jamestown Civic Center. John M. Steiner / The Sun3 / 3

Airballing a 3-point attempt isn't nearly as embarrassing after already having sent three through the twine. Carrington High School's Kiera Eli can relate following her first-half performance Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Jamestown Civic Center.

The junior forward went a perfect 3-for-3 from outside the arc in the first quarter against Medina-Pingree-Buchanan in the championship game of the Stutsman County girls basketball tournament.

But her fourth attempt in the second quarter? Let Eli explain.

"My legs just weren't in it," Eli grinned, as she missed the rim entirely. "I wasn't as focused as I was on the other ones, but I just kept finding the open spots anyway and hitting them."

Eli buried a fourth 3 to the end the first half 40-17 in favor of Carrington, and the Cardinals earned a third Stutsman title in five years with a 73-49 victory over the Thunder. Veteran coach Andy Braaten's Cardinals are capable of shooting well, and proved it by converting 25 of 54 from 3-point range over Carrington's three tournament wins in Jamestown.

"We have a new gym in Carrington and maybe that's helped out a little bit? The spacing and things like that," Braaten said. "You say 25 threes, but I thought we were attacking and getting to the rim pretty well too."

Carrington's depth and balance largely dominated Saturday's 32 minutes of play, with five girls reaching double figures in scoring. Eli and junior Addison Hoornaert (9 rebounds) led the way scoring 15 points each. Senior forward Kadyn Merhing produced 13 points and 10 rebounds, in a game in which Carrington controlled the glass 38-21.

Senior guard McKenzie Johnson converted two more triples in the tournament finale, giving her 12 on 21 attempts over the three days. Johnson scored 12 points against the Thunder and 48 in the tournament.

"We're building some depth. We're dealing with injuries too," said Braaten. Carrington's 5-foot-9 junior Bella Hone has yet to suit up. "But a good effort through the three days, and nice balance. Kids really shared the ball nice."

Shot selection, and a handful of critical turnovers as a result of Carrington's defensive pressure, pointed Medina-Pingree-Buchanan in the wrong direction early. The Thunder converted just 5 of 17 from the field in the opening two quarters and fell behind by as many as 29 in the second half.

"I think we were forcing the issue, and probably some (shot) selection where we were just trying to do too much," said M-P-B coach Brett Thielges. "The first 5 minutes we played well, and then all of a sudden (Carrington) started making their run, like we knew they would, and we started to push the issue."

Thielges' experienced returners, Amanda Allen and Megan Moser, again shouldered a majority of the work. The duo combined to convert 7 of 15 3-pointers, with Allen scoring 24 points and Moser dropping in 18.

Allen finished the tournament 10 of 21 from beyond the arc, scoring 60 points and producing 28 rebounds. Moser averaged just over 18 points per contest.

"I think we got a little fatigued there too," Thielges said. "But that's why we play these tournaments early. Playing three games early in a row like this, hopefully it will pay off for you in the long run."

Stutsman County Invitational Girls Basketball Tournament

At Jamestown Civic Center

Championship

(RV) Carrington 73, Medina-Pingree-Buchanan 49

MPB 11 6 16 16 -- 49

CARR 21 19 17 16 -- 73

MPB—Amanda Allen 24, Megan Moser 18, Gracie Bohl 4, Danielle Essinger 2, Brittney Reister 1. Totals: 16-40 FG, 7-18 3-pointers (Allen 4, Moser 3), 10-21 FT, 21 Rebounds (Moser 5), 13 Fouls, 4 Assists (Allen 3), 14 Turnovers, 4 Steals (Bohl 2).

CARR -- Kiera Eli 15, Addison Hoornaert 15, Kadyn Mehring 13, McKenzie Johnson 12, Hannah Hagel 12, Marah Schmitz 2, Lexus Page 2, Sydnie Grager 2. Totals: 28-57 FG, 6-17 3-pointers (Eli 4, Johnson 2), 11-20 FT, 38 Rebounds (Mehring 10), 17 Fouls, 14 Assists (Johnson 6), 7 Turnovers, 7 Steals (Johnson 4).

Records Carrington 3-1. MPB 3-1.

Third place

Ellendale 43, South Border 39

ELL 4 14 14 11 -- 43

SB 13 10 10 6 -- 39

ELL—Abigail Molan 14, Katlyn Dathe 12, Morgan Barton 8, Abigail Peterson 4, Taylor Krege 3, Mackenzie Thorpe 2. Totals: 14-44 FG, 1-7 3-pointers (Krege), 14-20 FT, 36 Rebounds (Dathe 13), 20 Fouls, 22 Turnovers, 4 Blocks (Dathe 4), 11 Steals (Dathe 3, Molan 3).

SB—Faith Dockter 22, Emily St. Aubin 7, Kaelie Kosiak 6, Reagon Gross 4. Totals: 14-42 FG, 0-1 3-pointers, 11-20 FT, 25 Rebounds (Aubin 8), 19 Fouls, 19 Turnovers, 15 Steals (Dockter 5).

Records: Ellendale 3-2. South Border 1-3.

Fifth place

Napoleon-Gackle-Streeter 57, Midkota 52

NGS 19 11 10 17 -- 57

MID 12 14 15 11 -- 52

NGS—Bailey Heflin 20, Alexa Young 15, McKenzie Glatt 9, Ashley Schmitt 8, Sydney Kleingartner 3, Janea Weigel 2. Totals: 21-48 FG, 0-1 3-pointers, 15-20 FT, 35 Rebounds (Schmitt 9, Heflin 9), 14 Fouls, 8 Assists (Schmitt 4), 16 Turnovers, 10 Steals (Heflin 3).

MID—Brenna Anderson 21, Hunter Peterson 11, Emma Kollman 6, Meanda Rickford 5, Tara Otto 5, Nicole Beckley 4. Totals: 20-59 FG, 5-14 3-pointers (Anderson 5), 7-15 FT, 30 Rebounds (Beckley 9), 19 Fouls (Rickford, Otto, Beckley), 7 Assists (Anderson 3), 17 Turnovers, 8 Steals (Kollman 4).

Records: NGS 3-2. MID 1-4.

Seventh place

Edgeley-Kulm-Montpelier 50, Warwick 43

EKM 10 9 17 14 -- 50

WAR 9 5 9 20 -- 43

EKM—Payton Brandenburg 16, Bailey Anderson 11, Jocelynn Madcke 8, Avrie Carlson 7, Emily Kinzler 6, Emma Leppert 2. Totals: 14-51 FG, 3-17 3-pointers (Brandenberg 2, Madcke), 39 Rebounds (Anderson 10), 17 Fouls (Carlson), 8 Assists (Madcke 4), 15 Turnovers, 8 Steals.

WAR—Madison Leaf 21, Kalista Jackson 11, Hannah Fassett 6, Jayla Alberts 3, Sandra Mattson 1, Sydney Tollefson 1. Totals: 14-37 FG, 6-21 3-pointers (Leaf 3, Alberts, Fassett, Jackson), 21 Rebounds (Leaf 5), 23 Fouls (Leaf), 18 Turnovers, 11 Steals (Melissa Olson 4).

Records: EKM 2-2. WAR 1-5.

Tournament Awards

All-tournament team: Madison Leaf, Warwick; Bailey Heflin, N-G-S; Alexa Young, N-G-S; Katelyn Dathe, Ellendale; Faith Dockter, South Border; Addison Hoornaert, Carrington; Brenna Anderson, Midkota; Megan Moser, M-P-B; Amanda Allen, M-P-B; McKenzie Johnson, Carrington; Kiera Eli, Carrington.

Coach of the tournament: Andy Braaten, Carrington; Brett Thielges, M-P-B.

Free-throw award: N-G-S, 69 percent.

Sportsmanship award: Warwick.

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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