When Ella Falk stepped onto the basketball court for the Blue Jays as an eighth-grader, JHS head girls basketball coach Andy Skunberg knew there was something special about her.
"She was really mature for her age," Skunberg said of the Blue Jay sophomore. "She can handle the ball, handle the pressure, the pace of the game. She sees the court very well. She does a good job passing and when given time she can knock some shots down."
Falk showed some that same spark Saturday afternoon at Jerry Meyer Arena but, unfortunately, it was not enough to clinch the win.
Falk and the Blue Jays fell to Watford City 66-60, dropping to 5-4 in the WDA standings. While Bismarck Century is still leading the conference at 7-0, the Wolves are in the No. 2 spot at 8-1.
The Wolves' only loss came against Century, 60-55, on Dec. 18.
Watford City is slated to host Dickinson on Thursday while the Jays will be back in action on Tuesday hosting Bismarck St. Mary's at 7 p.m.
"We shot ourselves in the foot as Skun would say," Falk said. "We just got outhustled a little bit, but overall I think we played well. It was just the little things here and there."
The Jays certainly didn't get outhustled in the first half.
Skunberg's squad took control of the game early as Falk fueled an 18-3 run. Falk knocked down a pair in the paint and a couple of 3s in the opening minutes en route to her 18 points. Junior Annie Nabwe was big at the post collecting five rebounds and adding six to the scoreboard. Nabwe ended with 15 points.
While Grace Hegerle racked up 11 in just the first half, the 5-foot-10 guard also pitched a physical defense. Hegerle took out Riley Faller, a 5-foot-8 center for the Wolves, in trying to collect on a foul. Faller later walked off the court under her own power but did not return. Hegerle ended the 36 minutes with 15 points and six rebounds to her name.
The Jays had four in the scoring category before the first half came to a close
The Blue Jays had built an impressive lead but began to falter in the closing minutes. The Wolves, headed up by Madison Spacher, continued to chip at the home team's lead coming within nine. Hegerle led the Blue Jays on a 7-3 run to end the first up 36-23.
"Everybody was hitting shots," Falk said. "Grace kept us in the game the first half when they went on a run."
Watford City came out with new energy to start the second frame, knocking down the first basket of the half to pull within 11, but Falk and Hegerle countered with seven points to make the lead 13.
The lead didn't stay in the double-digits very long.
Madison Spacher and Ashley Holen anchored a hot-handed Watford City offense to get the West's No. 2 team back on track. Once the Wolves got their mojo back, they used it from behind the arc burying six for 18 points.
Watford City had cut the lead to just three when the Wolves hit a long-range two to come within one point of tying the game. The Blue Jays fell into some trouble with turnovers.
"They got after it," Skunberg said. "We couldn't really match their intensity and that's kind of what took over. They got on runs, they hit shots and when they didn't they got second-chance points."
After a 3-pointer from Madison Spacher took the lead for the Wolves, Skunberg called some timeouts to try and help keep his team on top. Unfortunately for the Jays, the Wolves had no plans of letting up.
"They wanted it more than we did it seemed like," Falk said. "I mean, I know we want it and we had the momentum on our side from the Mandan game but they're, like, the No. 1 rebounding team in the state and they proved it."
Ashley Holen matched Falk's 3 to pull ahead 62-60 and a 4-0 run by the Wolves with 30 seconds left on the clock was just too much for the Jays to handle.
"Next game we just have to play our game and do what we know how to do and just go out there and work hard," Falk said.
Watford City 66, Jamestown 60
WC 23 43 -- 66
JHS 36 24 -- 60
WC --Spacher 20, Emma Mogen 15, Holen 14, Jessica Mogen 7, Hayley Ogle 7, Gracen Breitbach 3 Totals: 26 FG, 5-10 FT, 12 fouls. 3-pointers: Spacher 4, Holen 1, E. Mogen 1, Ally Cross 1, Ogle 1, J. Mogen 1.
JHS -- E. Falk 18, Hegerle 15, Nabwe 15, Hunter Petersen 6, Katie Falk 3, Jordan Finck 3. Totals: 25 FG, 3-4 FT, 15 fouls. 3-pointers: E. Falk 4, Finck 1, Hegerle 1, Nabwe 1.
Records: Watford City 8-1, 8-1 West Region; Jamestown 5-4, 5-4 West Region.