Carrington girls basketball always comes battle-tested for the postseason.
Athletic director Karla Michaelson worked No. 1-ranked Central Cass, No. 2 Kindred, No. 6 Thompson and a handful of other high-profile matchups into the Cardinals' schedule this season, per usual. Now is the time that type of game experience pays off.
"I really like the schedule that Ms. M put together," said Carrington junior center Sydnie Grager. "She always puts together a really good one and it really helps us come tournament time."
The 5-foot-11 Grager did a little bit of everything on semifinal night of the District 5 tournament Saturday at the Jamestown Civic Center. Her 16 points, 17 rebounds and four blocks carried the top-seeded Cardinals to a 37-25 victory over Edgeley/Kulm/Montpelier.
Carrington entered the postseason falling in two of its final three games: to Thompson by three and to a solid Midway/Minto squad, 70-45, a team that received votes in this week's Class B girls basketball media poll.
Carrington was the first team just outside the top 10 in this week's state ranking.
"We learned a lot with how to handle emotions and how to handle different situations," Grager said. "Tonight I think we had energy, but our shots just weren't falling."
Carrington converted 14 field goals on 50 attempts in its lowest offensive output of the season -- win or lose -- but buckled down defensively, putting a senior-less Rebels team on tilt. EKM shot under 20%, converting 9 of 47 from the field.
Freshman Mataeya Mathern, however, continued her strong tournament for EKM. The guard paired eight points with nine rebounds and seven steals.
"It was one of those games where you just had to grind it out a little bit more," said Carrington coach Andy Braaten. "We were a little impatient at times but that kinda improved throughout the night. The first quarter we kinda built that lead and kept them at bay."
Carrington scored the game's first nine points and led 15-4 after eight minutes. EKM coach Rory Entzi said that's kinda been a pattern the Rebels have been trying to remedy throughout the season.
"We seem to do that," Entzi said. "We like to kinda get punched in the nose a couple times and then we decide maybe we can play with whoever we're playing with.
"I'm not disappointed, it's just a struggle because I think if we could score, the pressure of (Carrington) being the 1 seed I think would've kinda made that game a little more interesting."
EKM trimmed the Carrington advantage to 19-14 at the half, but would only score 11 more points the rest of the way. Carrington controlled the glass, outrebounding the Rebels 44-30 with seniors Hannah Hagel and Lexi Page each producing nine rebounds to backup Grager's 17.
The Cardinals outscored the Rebels 13-0 on second-chance points but would like to see more out of its perimeter shooting. The Cards sank 2 of 12 3-pointers on a chilly night both inside and outside the civic center.
"We've gotta make a few more perimeter action shots on Monday, and we will," Braaten said. "But our defense, I told the girls, 'Hey, holding a team to 25 is pretty solid D for the night."
The Rebels will play Ellendale on Monday at 6 p.m. in a Region 3 qualifier. EKM crammed nine games into January but had a much-needed six days to prepare for the district tournament.
The Rebels fell at Ellendale 38-37 on Jan. 14.
"When you're young, you've gotta practice to get better," Entzi said. "We've really made a lot of leaps and bounds over the last couple weeks because we've had less games and actually more practice. I told them in the locker room -- the old phrase -- stuff happens, and the people that are successful get their butt outta bed the next day and we go back to work and get ready for Monday."
Carrington will play Oakes in Monday's championship at 7:30 p.m. The Cardinals upended the Tornadoes 70-59 in Oakes on Jan. 21.
"We gotta put the ball in the hole better than we did tonight, but continue with our defensive presence and make their shots tough," Braaten said. "Hopefully we rest up a little bit and shoot better on Monday."
But in a season that included having the girls' Stutsman County tournament canceled due to COVID-19, the Cardinals are also simply happy there's a title game of any kind scheduled to happen.
"This winter postseason games are frosting," Braaten said, "because we didn't know if we were going to have things."
The Ellendale Cardinals defeated Barnes County North 43-30 in Saturday's loser-out game.
Abby Molan and Mackenzie Thorpe combined for 19 points and 18 rebounds for the Cardinals in the winning effort. Ashley McFadgen, a senior guard for the Bison, ended her career with a fine performance, turning in 23 of BCN's 30 points, plus 15 rebounds and eight steals.
District 5 Girls Basketball Tournament
(Tournament seeding in parenthesis)
(1) Carrington 37, (4) Edgeley/Kulm/Montpelier 25
EKM 4 10 4 7 -- 25
CAR 15 4 9 9 - 37
EKM -- Mataeya Mathern 8, Norah Entzi 6, Emily Kinzler 4, Reagan Teske 4, Abby Mathern 2, Kiara Jangula 1. Totals: 9-47 FG, 0-8 3-pointers, 7-14 FT, 30 Rebounds (M. Mathern 9), 11 Fouls, 2 Assists, 12 Turnovers, 2 Blocks, 9 Steals (M. Mathern 7).
CAR -- Sydnie Grager 16, Hannah Hagel 8, Lexi Page 5, Kenzie Edland 3, Emma Rindy 3, Haley Wolsky 2. Totals: 14-50 FG, 2-12 3-pointers (Rindy, Page), 7-11 FT, 44 Rebounds (Grager 17, Hagel 9, Page 9), 13 Fouls, 6 Assists (Edland 2, Page 2), 15 Turnovers, 6 blocks (Grager 4, Hagel 2), 6 Steals (Edland 2, Hagel 2).
Records: Carrington 15- 5. EKM 9-11.
Ellendale 43, Barnes County North 30
ELL 13 9 8 13 -- 43
BCN 6 9 6 9 -- 30
ELL -- Abby Molan 10, Mackenzie Thorpe 9, Kali Norton 9, Abby Peterson 7, Morgan Fischer 4, Jada Henningsen 2, Chloe Bollinger 2. Totals: 14-48 FG, 1-9 3-pointers (Norton), 14-26 FT, 39 Rebounds (Molan 9, Thorpe 9), 22 Fouls, 2 Assists, 27 Turnovers, 1 Block, 14 Steals (6 with 2).
BCN -- Ashley McFagen 23, Trinity Iverson 3, Melissa Dobitz 2, Allison Bryn 1, Kendra Kreshik 1. Totals: 10-42 FG, 1-10 3-pointers (McFadgen), 9-23 FG, 37 Rebounds (McFadgen 15), 22 Fouls (Greshik), 1 Assist, 29 Turnovers, 21 Steals (McFadgen).
Records: Ellendale 6-13. BCN 0-18-1.
District 5 Girls Basketball Tournament
At Jamestown Civic Center
(Seeds in parenthesis)
G1: (4) Edgeley/KM 44, (5) Griggs-Midkota 39
G2: (2) Oakes 66, (7) Barnes Co. North 28
G3: (3) LaMoure/LM 54, (6) Ellendale 47
G4: Ellendale 43, Barnes Co. North 30
G5: (1) Carrington 37, Edgeley/KM 25
G6: Oakes 68, LaMoure/LM 39
Region 3 qualifier: Griggs-Midkota vs. LaMoure/LM, 4:30 p.m.
Region 3 qualifier: Ellendale vs. Edgeley/KM, 6 p.m.
Championship: Carrington vs. Oakes, 7:30 p.m.
District 6 Girls Basketball Tournament
At Linton High School
(Seeds in parenthesis)
G1: (4) Medina/PB 51, (5) South Border 31
G2: (3) Napoleon/GS 61, (6) Strasburg/Zeeland 30
G3: (1) Linton/HMB 68, Medina/PB 22
G4: (2) Kidder County 62, Napoleon/GS 27
Region 3 qualifier: South Border vs. Napoleon/GS, 4 p.m.
Region 3 qualifier: Strasburg/Zeeland vs. Medina/PB, 5:30 p.m.
Championship: Linton/HMB vs. Kidder Co., 7 p.m.