Carrington girls basketball had made three field goals and trailed ninth-ranked Kidder County 23-10 at the half Tuesday night at the Jamestown Civic Center.
But instead of mailing in a third consecutive Region 3 tournament semifinal to the Wolves right then and there, a funny thing happened. Coach Andy Braaten's Cardinals decided they wanted to practice Wednesday.
A grittier game could not have been found elsewhere as the state's Class B girls basketball teams were slashed from 32 to 16. Carrington held Kidder County scoreless for 7 minutes, 27 seconds in the second half -- holding KC without a field goal on 10 shots in the fourth quarter -- en route to a 43-37 victory over the Wolves.
Carrington will play sixth-ranked Linton/HMB in Thursday's championship at 7 p.m.
"We get to practice tomorrow, and that's always the No. 1 goal," said Braaten, who reached 400 career coaching victories on Monday and led the Cardinals to a state championship in 2011. "We were down by 13 at the half and our locker room ... they were calm. They just knew that we can be better."
Just about anything would've been better than shooting 14% (3 of 22) and trailing by as many as 17, and Kenzie Edland's 3-pointer and seven points in the third kept the Cards on life support until Kidder County's Kennedy Harter picked up a fourth personal foul 34 seconds into quarter No. 4 with the Wolves leading 35-24.
Harter was in the middle of a spectacular performance, finishing with seven blocks, 13 points and eight rebounds. But the sophomore forward -- Class B's 2019 state triple jump champion -- had her tenacity all but zapped with only one foul left to give down the stretch.
Carrington senior forward Hannah Hagel took advantage and the Cardinals came to life. Hagel scored all of her game-high 15 points in the second half, including 10 in the fourth quarter, as Carrington finished on a 21-2 run that began in the final minute of the third.
"(Harter) blocked a lot of shots right away, so it was kinda frustrating, but as soon as she got her second foul we were like, 'OK, we just need to keep going at her and hopefully she'll swat,'" Hagel said. "Harter getting in foul trouble, really, that's what helped our game. We were just bombing 3s in the first half and then we started having an inside game and that's what brought us all together."
A Madelyn Schmidt 3-pointer with 46 seconds remaining in the third was KC's final field goal of the night and put the Wolves ahead 35-22. Schmidt wrapped up KC's scoring with two free throws that tied the game at 37-37 with 1:19 to play, ending the more than seven-minute scoring drought. But a Hagel put back on the other end was followed with an unsuccessful drive to the bucket by Schmidt, and a big defensive rebound by Carrington senior guard Lexus Page helped seal the game in the final minute with the Cards up by two.
Carrington's Emma Rindy and Sydnie Grager combined to convert 4 of 4 shots at the foul line to produce the 43-37 final. Page drew the difficult assignment of guarding the all-state point guard Schmidt, who finished her stellar career with 11 points and eight rebounds.
"Our kids just stepped up in the last quarter," Braaten said. "Made shots and made free throws, and did all the little things on defense."
Ironically, it was Carrington that was held without a field goal in the opening quarter. Single free throws by Edland and Grager were all the red birds could muster, while Harter blocked Hagel, Rindy and Hannah Wolsky in the opening frame and the Wolves led 13-2 to start the second.
Harter's third foul came with 5:30 remaining in the third. Kidder County coach Dan Welder sat the sophomore standout for roughly a minute when she drew No. 4 in the fourth.
"She was one of the main reasons we were in the position we were at halftime," Welder said. "They adjusted a little bit on defense, playing her with good help-side defense, and it kinda threw us for a loop a little bit on how to adjust to that. But we had open looks in the second, they just would not fall. It's just the way it goes sometimes."
KC's 0-for-10 shooting in the fourth contributed to a 27% shooting night all told (13 of 48). Carrington shot roughly the same (14 of 50), but momentum is a wild thing.
"Well, we play 32 minutes, right? And, when we play Kidder it's been this back-and-forth thing all the time," Braaten said. "They're a great team. They're so well-coached."
Edland, one of three senior Carrington starters along with Page and Hagel, turned in 14 points and 12 rebounds. Rindy also hit a 3 during Carrington's game-ending run.
"Just keep playing as hard as I can. Got nothing to lose," Edland said of her strategy after the half. "We were down by (13), just keep shooting and eventually they'd fall."
Carrington entered the game having lost twice to Kidder County on region semifinal night in each of the past two seasons, including an 81-72 overtime defeat in 2019. Carrington trailed by as many as 17 points in that game, too, before forcing OT.
Welder's Wolves finished at 17-4 and will lose seniors Schmidt and Hailey Pfaff to graduation. Schmidt -- a first-team all-state selection as a sophomore -- has committed to continue her basketball career at the University of Jamestown.
"She's been unbelievable for our program the last five years. Coming in as an eighth-grader, taking that role as point guard and just keeping it for five years and basically just running our team," Welder said. "She's been a leader on the floor and off the floor. She expects perfection and that's why she's the player that she is because she puts in the time. It's gonna be hard but these girls gotta put some time in in the offseason and hopefully we can get back to where we need to."
Carrington has advanced to its fifth Region 3 title game since migrating south from Region 4 in 2014-15 but has only won the crown once (2016).
Carrington and Linton/HMB -- winners of 11 straight -- did not meet during the regular season.
"They can shoot it and they're deep," Braaten said. "We get to practice tomorrow, come back Thursday and wear red and give it a whirl."
(RV) Carrington 43, (9) Kidder County 37
KC 13 10 12 2 -- 37
CAR 2 8 14 19 -- 43
KC -- Kennedy Harter 13, Madelyn Schmidt 11, Avery Rath 6, Hailey Pfaff 6, Ella Svanes 1. Totals: 13-48 FG, 4-17 3-pointers (Pfaff 2, Harter, Schmidt), 7-8 FT, 33 Rebounds (Harter 8, Schmidt 8, Rath 7, Pfaff 7), 16 Fouls (Harter ), 6 Assists (Pfaff 3), 11 Turnovers, 7 Blocks (Harter 7), 6 Steals (Svanes 2).
CAR -- Hannah Hagel 15, Kenzie Edland 14, Sydnie Grager 6, Emma Rindy 5, Lexus Page 3. Totals: 14-50 FG, 3-18 3-pointers (Rindy, Edland, Page), 12-21 FT, 37 Rebounds (Edland 12, Hagel 9, Grager 8), 8 Fouls, 3 Assists, 10 Turnovers, 9 Steals (Hagel 5), 0 Blocks.
Records: Carrington 18-5. Kidder County 17-4.
Region 3 Girls Basketball Tournament
At Jamestown Civic Center
(Tournament seeding in parentheses)
G1: (D6-1) Linton/HMB 60 (D5-4) Edgeley/KM 31
G2: (D5-2) Oakes 69, (D6-3) Napoleon/GS 44
G3: (D5-1) Carrington 65, (D6-4) Medina/PB 42
G4: (D6-2) Kidder Co. 46, (D5-3) LaMoure/LM 33
G5: Linton/HMB 67, Oakes 59
G6: Carrington 43, Kidder Co. 37
G7: Linton/HMB vs. Carrington, 7 p.m.