MINOT -- Carrington girls basketball coach Andy Braaten might've spoken all positives Thursday night at the Minot State Dome had it not been for those pesky few seconds in the second half.
"Except for that one possession where they got about three or four offensive boards," Braaten explained, "I thought we did a pretty good job down there."
Carrington clung on to a 45-39 victory over Langdon/Edmore/Munich (LEM) in quarterfinal action of the state Class B tournament and will play No. 1-ranked Central Cass in Friday's semifinals at 9 p.m.
Carrington was able to weather pressure put on all evening by the defending state champion Cardinals and imposed a defensive will that seemed to break the spirit of coach Rob Scherr's squad. Junior forward Morgan Freije (14 points) was the only player to reach double figures in scoring for LEM, which shot 30% from the field on 50 shots.
LEM's other leading scorers, senior forward Kaylee Lowery and freshman guard Jaya Henderson, mustered a combined six points. The trio makes up nearly 35 of the team's 56 points per game on average.
"We couldn't score, bottom line," Scherr said. "I thought our defense was good enough to win, it's just we could not score and I give Carrington credit. They made us kinda back down and made us not attack.
"They slowed us down quite a bit."
Carrington enjoys a low-scoring, half-court game where it can utilize senior forward Hannah Hagel and junior center Sydnie Grager. Grager scored a game-high 15 points with Hagel tossing in 11 more, but clutch outside offense from the team's guards in the first half put LEM on its heels.
Senior Lexi Page buried back-to-back 3-pointers to open up a 24-19 Carrington lead with four minutes to play before the break. Page also scored 11.
"Huge, huge," Braaten said. "That gets space for Hannah and Syd, and Emma (Rindy) popped one, two."
Rindy, a 5-foot-4 junior that led the Cardinals in out-rebounding LEM 36-26 with eight boards, splashed her 3 through the cylinder with time winding down in the half to help send Carrington into the break leading 30-25.
"I was ready," Page said. "I haven't really been shooting very good lately, so I knew I had to come here and try my best to make those shots."
LEM used a 7-0 run to lead 14-9 after one quarter. But that would be the northern Cardinals' best offensive frame the entire game.
Carrington maintained a five-point lead after three, 34-31, and LEM was unable to get out of its own way in the fourth. A pair of traveling violations and steals by Carrington's Kenzie Edland and Hannah Hagel were part of 20 LEM turnovers on the night, which Carrington turned into 13 of its 45 points.
"Our inside game didn't attack them and our outside game was tentative ... and Carrington played good defense," Scherr said.
Edland's steal in the fourth turned into a Rindy free throw at the other end, as Carrington went up by seven, 42-35, with three minutes to play and would hold on from there. Carrington converted seven of its nine points in the fourth quarter on 10 shots at the foul line.
"We've been getting to the foul line," Braaten said. "It's one of our goals for the year to make more free throws than the other team shoots, and a lot of times we do that."
Carrington will need to try and force another grinder in Friday's semifinals. Central Cass, at 23-1 overall, might be the most athletic team at the state tournament and defeated Carrington by 19 on Jan. 16 in Casselton.
The Squirrels forced 18 turnovers in their 58-43 quarterfinal victory over Hettinger/Scranton.
"We know what's coming tomorrow night," Braaten said. "We gotta handle pressure. If we can handle the ball, maybe they can't play as fast and we can get into a lower-scoring battle?"
Page said: "We know how to break the pressure. Just fight through it and be strong."
State Class B Girls Basketball Tournament
At Minot State Dome
Carrington 45, Langdon/Edmore/Munich 39
LEM 14 11 6 8 -- 39
CAR 9 21 6 9 -- 45
LEM -- Morgan Freijie 14, Cora Badding 7, Whitney Pankratz 5, Lexis Olson 5, Jaya Henderson 3, Kaylee Lowery 3, Jalynn Swanson 2. Totals: 15-50 FG, 3-16 3-pointers (Henderson, Olson, Bading), 6-10 FT, 26 Rebounds (Lowery 6), 18 Fouls (Swanson), 10 Assists (4 with 2), 20 Turnovers, 2 Blocks (Badding 2), 21 Steals (Lowery 5, Olson 5).
CAR -- Sydnie Grager 15, Hannah Hagel 11, Lexus Page 11, Emma Riny 5, Kenzie Edland 3. Totals: 14-34 FG, 3-8 3-pointers (Page 2, Rindy), 14-22 FT, 36 Rebounds (Rindy 8, Grager 7, Hagel 7), 11 Fouls, 11 Assists (Hagel 4), 23 Turnovers, 3 Blocks (Grager 3), 9 Steals (Edland 3, Hagel 3).
Records: Carrington 20-5. Langdon/EM 19-6.
(Tournament seeding/records in parentheses)
At Minot State Dome
Game 1: (2) Grafton 65, Glenburn 33
Game 2: Wilton-Wing 47, (3) Kenmare 40
Game 3: (1) Central Cass 58, Hettinger/Scranton 43
Game 4: (4) Carrington 45 (5) Langdon/Edmore/Munich 39
Game 5: Glenburn (23-3) vs. Kenmare (24-1), noon.
Game 6: Hettinger/Scanton (20-5) vs. Langdon/Edmore/Munich (19-6), 2:30 p.m.
Game 7: Grafton (22-2) vs. Wilton-Wing (21-2), 6:30 p.m.
Game 8: Central Cass (23-1) vs. Carrington (20-5), 9 p.m.
Seventh place: Loser G5 vs. Loser G6, noon.
Fifth place: Winner G5 vs. Winner G6, 2:30 p.m.
Third place: Loser G7 vs. Loser G8, 6 p.m.
Championship: Winner G7 vs. Winner G8, 8:30 p.m.