LAMOURE, N.D. -- Wave after wave of Lions flooded the court to fuel Linton/HMB girls basketball's full-court pressure defense here Tuesday, but Erica Umber's offensive production in the halfcourt arguably made the difference.
The senior forward scored six straight points around the bucket during a 10-2 Lions' third-quarter run in a 54-48 victory for fifth-ranked Linton/HMB over LaMoure/Litchville-Marion. Umber, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury last winter, finished with team-highs in points (11), rebounds (4) and steals (6), as the Lions forced 29 turnovers and led by as many as 14 before holding on by six.
"If someone gets beat on the pressure, we just gotta talk through it and help each other," Umber said of the Lions' relentless defense of the court. "LaMoure is a tough team and we know we can do this the whole year, we just need to get better. And, we'll get better by the end of the season."
Coach Beau Diegel's substituting Lions were difficult to keep track of, even for the players.
A technical foul was assessed to the Lions after an early first-quarter line change for having six players on the court. LaMoure/Litchville-Marion's Molly Musland buried the two free throws to produce the Loboes' only lead at 4-2.
"We'll address that tomorrow," Diegel said. "We got it figured out and they have a better understanding now after tonight."
Diegel can go 12 deep on his bench depending on the situation, an absolute luxury in Class B basketball. The Lions defended the length of the court and manned-up under their bucket, racking up 15 steals and forcing multiple miscues for the Loboes, who are replacing former all-state guard Ellie Holen this winter.
"I'd say anywhere from 10 to 12 any given night," Diegel said of his rotation. "This year we happened to have a lot of juniors and seniors, and even some sophomores, that were willing to put in the time."
Neither team generated much offense until both Callie Hase and JayCee Richter connected for 3-pointers against the Loboes' 2-3 zone during an 11-4 spurt by the Lions to end the first half. The run ballooned a 13-12 Lions' lead to 25-16 at the half in four minutes.
Three straight points by Precious Vetter to start the fourth quarter followed Umber's eight-point third, handing the visitors their largest lead of the game at 42-28. Musland, however, nearly led the Loboes all the way back.
The 5-foot-9 junior guard scored 11 of her game-high 25 points in the final frame, but after slashing the deficit to 50-44 with two minutes remaining, bonus shots by Umber and Emily Kelsh pushed the lead back out to double figures and out of reach for the Loboes, who fell to 3-1.
Musland and junior teammate Mollie Robbins both finished with nine rebounds. Vetter and Richter both scored 10 points for the Lions.
"I'm proud of our girls and how they handled (the pressure) as the game went on," said LLM assistant coach Scott Koehler, speaking for head coach Mitch Carlson who fell ill late in Tuesday's game. "We were a little rattled early, but Linton's a good team. They're gonna do that to a lot of teams this year."
The road doesn't appear to get any easier for the Loboes, who are playing the season without any seniors. They'll be in Pingree on Thursday to play the unbeaten Medina/Pingree-Buchanan Thunder (4-0), who knocked off fourth-ranked Carrington 45-43 Tuesday night.
The Loboes lost an early game to the Lions by 10 points last January before eventually winning 21 games and the Region 3 championship.
"We didn't do very well against Linton last year, and we did pretty well at the end of the year," Koehler said. "So, hopefully, we can build and progress and get this team ready over the next six weeks to be a threat at the end."
The Lions (3-1), who lost by four points to No. 2-ranked Kindred on Dec. 29, have a date with No. 1-ranked Central Cass (7-0) coming up on Jan. 19 at the Jamestown Civic Center in the annual Linton/HMB Jamboree.
"We're gonna get better and hopefully we can make it to state," Umber said. "We've always dreamed of that, and we can do it, we just gotta stick together and buy-in all together."
"I just keep telling my girls that you gotta keep grinding it out and get into that fourth quarter," Diegel added. "Good things will end up happening if you're crashing the boards, if you're getting to your defensive spots and if you're talking out there. We've had a good start to our season and we want to keep it going. We want to be there at the end of the year."
(5) Linton/Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock 54, (RV) LaMoure/Litchville-Marion 48
LHMB 13 11 14 16 -- 54
LLM 6 10 12 20 -- 48
LHMB -- Erica Umber 11, JayCee Richter 10, Precious Vetter 10, Erin Kelsch 7, Teegan Scherr 5, Angie Vetter 3, Callie Hase 3, Josi Schwab 3, Emily Kelsch 2. Totals: 20-48 FG, 6-22 3-pointers (Richter 2, Erin Kelsch, Hase, Scherr, Schwab), 8-15 FT, 24 Rebounds (Umber 4), 15 Steals (Umber 6, Scherr 3), 18 Fouls, 20 Turnovers.
LLM -- Molly Musland 25, Mollie Robbins 9, Nateal Rodin 6, Risa Rasmusson 4, Tessa Rasmusson 2, Abby Haberman 2. Totals: 31 Rebounds (Musland 9, Robbins 9), 7 Steals (Musland 3), 9 Fouls, 29 Turnovers.
Records: Linton/HMB 3-1. LaMoure/LM 3-1.