Queen's hit single, Under Pressure, perfectly described what Grace Hegerle was feeling when she stepped to the free-throw line Tuesday night at Jerry Meyer Arena.
"I haven't been to the line much this year," the senior guard for the Blue Jays said. "I was kind of scared but that's just when you've got to have a lot of confidence."
Hegerle went to the line three times and knocked down five shots to help the Jays top Mandan 72-63. The victory was the team's third consecutive win. The JHS boys basketball team also defeated Mandan 83-71 Tuesday night on the road.
JHS girls basketball coach Andy Skunberg's squad has improved to 5-3 while the Braves dropped to 4-5. The Blue Jays are slated to host Watford City on Saturday at 1:45 p.m with the boys to follow at 3:30 p.m.
Hegerle has racked up 90 points across her first eight games, 17 of which have come from behind the line. After a couple of quiet games from the all-stater, Hegerle came out and showcased what Skunberg said was "vintage Grace."
"She's an all-state caliber player," Skunberg said. "She does a little of everything. She started out the year really good then sprained her ankle and I think she's working her way back from that but, hopefully, she starts getting confidence back.
"Down the stretch, she'll be a tough person to defend."
The Mandan defense certainly had a tall task guarding Hegerle while the offense had their hands full with varsity newcomer Annie Nabwe.
Nabwe, a junior guard, has nabbed a team-high of 17 rebounds and has forced 21 turnovers. She has also used her frame to make six blocks and has 20 steals on the books.
"Annie is a very gifted athlete," Skunberg said. "When you need a big rebound, she'll go get one for you. She's growing as a basketball player and if she continues to get better she's going to be a pretty good force down the stretch for us."
Nabwe took all of four seconds to get the game going for the Blue Jays as winning the tip gave her team the opportunity to score first.
Sophomore Katie Falk dribbled right down the court for an easy layup. The sophomore was fouled from behind, allowing her to step to the free-throw line for two. Falk drained the pair with ease. Those two shots were the start of a dominant run by the Jays.
Four of the Blue Jay starters: Falk, Ella Falk, Nabwe and Hegerle all had at least two points in the opening five minutes to build a 14-0 lead. A strong defense under the basket helped the Jays keep their lead as Hegerle and Nabwe combined for 15 rebounds off the Braves' missed shots.
"I think the chemistry has been pretty good," Hegerle said of her connection with Nabwe.
The Braves just couldn't seem to keep up with the Jays as Hunter Petersen and Breanna Oettle entered the game giving the Jays even more points. The Jays soon led 23-7 forcing Mandan head coach Shaun Henderson to call a timeout.
Mandan worked to answer Henderson's call drawing up a handful of fouls on the Blue Jays. Mandan put together a 15-6 run to make the score 36-26 to end the first half.
Nabwe and Hegerle were back on the floor to start the second half working to secure the rock and swinging it out to the perimeter. With about five minutes gone, Nabwe stole a pass from the Braves to set Hegerle up for an easy, unguarded layup. The junior continued to pressure the Mandan offense and in the process racked up her fourth foul.
In an effort not to lose his new post, Skunberg benched No. 14 until the clock got a little closer to double zeros.
The Blue Jays managed to keep the lead without Nabwe or the majority of their starters out on the floor. In an effort to get fresh legs, Skunberg put Oettle, Karli Remmick and Haylie Hakanson on the court with nine minutes to play.
"We're confident in the girls who come off the bench," Skunberg said.
While Skunberg said he liked the fight he saw from the batch of sophomores, he decided to use his starters to ice the game. Nabwe reentered the game but had to check her aggressive style of play at the door since she had only one more foul to give.
"I think I played good," Nabwe said. "I've just got to go straight up and not over every time -- just like my coach tells me."
Mandan tried to make it close, going on a 5-0 run to cut the Blue Jays' lead to three points. Skunberg said he had to hope his team would play with steady hands and heads for the last 2:28 of the game.
That's when Hegerle came in clutch from the line -- building the lead back up to six. Hegerle and the Falk duo all went 2 for 2 their last trips to the line. Hegerle said the team has been working on boosting free-throw percentages and was happy to see it pay off.
"The girls played hard," Skunberg said. "We had a couple of mental lapses but they said 'next play' and went from a 2-point game back up to a 10-point game. We got rebounds, hit free-throws and did what we needed to win a game."
Jamestown 72, Mandan 63
MAN 26 37 -- 63
JHS 36 36 -- 72
MAN --Sydney Gustavsson 14, Faith Eberle 14, Taylor Leingang 8, Piper Harris 6, Morgan Sheldon 6, Amaya Ramsey 5, Jayden Weist 4, Jordan Toman 4, Makenna Johnson 2. Totals: 25 FG, 11-17 FT, 22 fouls. 3-pointers: Gustavsson, Harris.
JHS -- Hegerle 19, E. Falk 12, Hunter Petersen 11, K. Falk 11, Nabwe 8, Breanna Oettle 8, Jordan Finck 3. Totals: 23-53 FG, 22-34 FT, 19 fouls. 3-pointers: Oettle 1, E. Falk 1, Hegerle 1, Finck 1.
Records: Jamestown 5-3, 5-3 West Region; Mandan 4-5, 4-5 West Region.
Lamp fuels Blue Jays' fire in Mandan
Carson Lamp was almost unstoppable from the perimeter Tuesday night in Mandan.
The 6-foot senior guard for Blue Jays boys basketball helped lead his team to an 83-71 victory in Mandan. With the win, the Blue Jays improved to 6-2 while the Braves dropped to 6-3 in the standings.
Lamp had a monstrous 20-point second half, knocking down four of his five 3-pointers. In total the senior tallied 25 points. JHS head coach Jacoby Lloyd said he saw a lot of his players step up and take some big shots.
Luke Van Berkom tallied a season-high 14 points while Brooks Carroll added another 18 to the stat sheet.
"We did a better job limiting our own turnovers and sharing the basketball," Lloyd said. "Free throws played a huge role down the stretch."
The Jays were 11 of 12 from the foul line and the Braves were 7 of 8.
With a string of road games coming up on the Jays' schedule, Lloyd said he was happy to see how his team responded to playing in a gym other than Jerry Meyer Arena.
"Our guys handled the pressure well," Lloyd said.
Jamestown 83, Mandan 71
JHS 33 50 -- 83
MAN 25 46 -- 71
JHS -- Lamp 25, Brooks Carroll 18, Luke Van Berkom 14, Ty Monson 9, Keith Levin 9, Devin Beach 5, Kade Schumacher 3. Totals: 30 FG, 11-12 FT, 13 fouls. 3-pointers: Lamp 5, Carroll 2, Monson 2, Van Berkom 1, Schumacher 1, Beach 1,
MAN -- Jayce Lowman 21, Jacob Pierce 16, Tyler Thilmony 14, Lucas Burgum 11, Aaron Grubb 4, Jonathan LaFleur 2, Nathan Gerding 2. Totals: 26 FG, 7-8 FT, 14 fouls. 3-pointers: Lowman 3, Thilmony 3, Burgum 3, Pierce 2.
Records: Jamestown 6-2, 6-2 West Region. Mandan 6-3, 6-3 West Region.