Everyone wanted to talk to or about Annie Nabwe Thursday evening.

"Ahhh the NBA player is getting interviewed again," screamed Jamestown High School girls basketball team member Ella Falk, applauding Nabwe as she walked past.

The junior guard for the Jamestown High School girls basketball team helped lead the Blue Jays to a 72-36 win over Bismarck St. Mary's to advance to the final round of the WDA basketball tournament.

"She had a great all-around game," JHS head coach Andy Skunberg said of Nabwe. "She kind of lit the fire under our team right away and we built on that."

The Jays lost 45-42 to Bismarck High in the opening round of WDAs, but with a 23-point performance from Nabwe, the Jays are well on their way to a state tournament berth. JHS will play sixth-seeded Mandan on Saturday at 11:45 a.m. at the Bismarck Events Center.

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Jamestown's Anthonett Nabwe prepares a launch to the basket in front of Lydia Spies of St. Mary's during the WDA tournament Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Jerry Meyer Arena. John M. Steiner / The Sun
Jamestown's Anthonett Nabwe prepares a launch to the basket in front of Lydia Spies of St. Mary's during the WDA tournament Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Jerry Meyer Arena. John M. Steiner / The Sun

The outcome of Saturday's game will determine if the Jays will end up in the state tournament, a feat the team has not accomplished since 2014.

"It feels awesome," Nabwe said of getting to the third and final round. "The game was fun and we had energy and stuff.

"(After Bismarck) our coach said to have a short memory and get ready for tonight."

Nabwe may have forgotten the disappointment of Tuesday's game, but she remembered what needed to be done against any opponent in the WDA.

The junior guard was coming off a 24-point performance against the Demons, outscoring everyone on the court by at least 10 points. Nabwe continued the trend from the opening tip, accounting for five of the Jays' opening 11 points. No. 14's hot streak continued down the stretch as she knocked down 14 more before the half was ended.

Nabwe went 11 of 17 from the field and nabbed 11 balls at the boards.

"I thought I did really good," Nabwe said. "I kept pushing even though I was tired. My teammates did well too."

The Saints tried to counter Nabwe's powerful inside game with hot-handed shooting from the perimeter. Brooke Haas knocked down four from beyond the arc to bring the Saints within four of the game-leaders. While the Blue Jays had three team members, Nabwe, Ella Falk and Grace Hegerle, contribute buckets early, Haas was the Saints' lone scorer until Lydia Spies went 1 of 1 from the line to make it a 27-13 Blue Jay game.

The score stood at 35-18 entering the 10-minute break.

Jamestown's Ella Falk sets to pass the ball as she is surrounded by Lydia Spies and Eden Schlinger (24) of St. Mary's during the WDA tournament Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Jerry Meyer Arena. John M. Steiner / The Sun
Jamestown's Ella Falk sets to pass the ball as she is surrounded by Lydia Spies and Eden Schlinger (24) of St. Mary's during the WDA tournament Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Jerry Meyer Arena. John M. Steiner / The Sun

"It was good to see them bounce back after kind of a defeating loss on Tuesday," Skunberg said of his team's performance. "We had early energy and confidence.

"We had a little bit of a lack of confidence at BHS. We weren't hitting shots and tonight we were hitting some shots and feeding off of each other and that's good."

Nabwe kept the streak going, helping the Jays to an 18-8 run with about seven minutes left in regulation. The Saints tried to swing the ball out to Haas for another one of the junior's 3-point shots, but Nabwe broke up the pass and threw the ball out to Breanna Oettle, who made the layup to make it a 31-point game.

Nabwe made seven steals and forced four turnovers across the 36 minutes.

Skunberg's group of starters found their place on the bench and the head coach left the game in the hands of his non-starters, a call Rylee Joseph answered with a shot-clock beating 3-pointer.

Haylie Hakanson knocked down 1 of her 2 shots from a distance and went 2-2 from the field for seven points. Joseph ended the game with two 3-pointers.

Jamestown's Katie Trumbauer (3) gets off a shot while under attack by Brooke Haas (10) of Bismarck St. Mary's Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Jerry Meyer Arena. John M. Steiner / The Sun
Jamestown's Katie Trumbauer (3) gets off a shot while under attack by Brooke Haas (10) of Bismarck St. Mary's Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Jerry Meyer Arena. John M. Steiner / The Sun

"It's an opportunity for the girls to be on varsity level," Skunberg said. "It's good experience going forward, it's always good to have."

Nabwe's experience and time on the court has caught Thad Sankey, the University of Jamestown women's basketball head coach's eye, as Nabwe talked with the third-year head coach after the game. As of right now, the junior is focused on the game that could either continue or end her junior year basketball season.

"It'll be a little bit of a struggle because the courts are longer," Nabwe said of playing in Bismarck. "We've practiced at the (Jamestown) Civic Center though ... we'll be ready."

Jamestown 72, St. Mary's 36

SM 18 18 -- 36

JHS 35 37 -- 72

SM -- Brooke Haas 16, Maddi Miller 4, Gabbi Mann 3, Lydia Spies 3, Mykia Messer 3, Eden Schlinger 3, Abby Seamands 2, Koia Krenz 2 Totals: 13 FG, 4-8 FT, 7 fouls. 3-pointers: Haas 5, Schlinger 1.

JHS -- Annie Nabwe 23, Katie Falk 10, Ella Falk 7, Grace Hegerle 7, Haylie Hakanson 7, Hunter Petersen 6, Rylee Joseph 6, Breanna Oettle 4, Katie Trumbauer 2. Totals: 38 FG, 1-8 FT, 12 fouls. 3-pointers: Joseph 2, E. Falk 1, Hegerle 1, Hakanson 1.