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Minot upsets Century to win state Class A girls title

Minot's first state championship in 44 years prevented Century from a repeat Saturday night in Bismarck.

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Century's Bergan Kinnebrew (13) tries to score through the defense of Minot's Maggie Fricke (2) and Taury Hight (23) in the second half of Saturday night's state Class A tournament championship game at the Bismarck Events Center.
Mike McCleary / Bismarck Tribune

BISMARCK -- Minot's first state championship in 44 years prevented Century from a repeat Saturday night in Bismarck.

Eighth-grader Maggie Fricke scored 27 points and senior Mariah Evenson netted 16 of her 18 points after halftime to lead Minot to a 75-68 victory over Century, snapping the Patriots' 50-game winning streak.

It was the fourth meeting between the Majettes and Patriots this season and second in a week. Century defeated Minot 76-52 in the West Region championship game March 5, but the fourth time was a charm for the Majettes.

"If we could pick which time we would beat them out of the four times, it'd be this one," said Fricke, who also had seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. "Century is a great team, but deep down, we knew we could do it. We just knew we had to give it our all for 36 minutes, every single one of us. We left everything we had on the court."

Tied 59-59 with four minutes to go, Minot scored 14 of the last 21 points of the game.

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"Minot, wow, those young girls made plays, and when it came down to it, the senior Evenson took over down the stretch. We didn't have an answer for her and they made some key plays late," said Century coach Nate Welstad, who was classy in defeat. "If every girls basketball game could be at that level, it'd be phenomenal for the state."

Minot came into the game with just four losses, three to Century and the other against Bismarck High. The Majettes were far from a Cinderella story, but were the definite underdog coming in. Jason Schwarz, who coached Minot to its first state title since 1978, said mindset trumped Xs and Os.

"The biggest thing for me all day long was motivating them and getting them to believe and we had 24 hours to do it," Schwarz said. "We just kept telling them you gotta believe and you don't have to do it alone. Trust your teammates, trust your coaches and trust each other.

"There's a reason they call March, March Madness. It happens, we've all seen it where the team that weren't supposed to win, wins. To our girls' credit, they believed."

Evenson had seven points in the final four minutes, including a three-point play which gave Minot a 68-62 lead with 1:55 left. Century answered quickly with a three-point play by Bergan Kinnebrew to cut the gap in half. But the Majettes went 5-for-6 from the stripe, two by Avery Lunde and three by Fricke, to ice the win.

Fricke and Evenson combined for 45 points, but they had plenty of help. Taury Hight had 10 points off the bench. Leelee Bell, Minot's other star eighth-grader, had nine points, grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked three shots.

"It really doesn't matter, the age," Fricke said. "We have a lot of great girls, great coaches and we have a lot of experience. It's just a great win for us as a team."

Century led 36-35 after a back-and-forth first half. After making 14 of 31 shots in the opening half, the Patriots slumped to 10-for-26 in the second 18 minutes. Minot, meanwhile, connected on 13 of its 20 second-half shots.

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"We put up enough points to get the win, but defensively, four minutes to go in a tie ball game, you gotta get stops. They got stops and we didn't," Welstad said. "Coach Schwarz did a nice job changing up a couple things, threw some wrinkles in there that gave us some trouble."

Logan Nissley capped off a stellar tournament and season. The Century junior led the Patriots in points (32), rebounds (11) and assists (11). Kinnebrew, a junior, filled the stat sheet as well with 21 points, eight rebounds and two steals. Both were named to the all-tournament team.

Both squads return strong rosters next season. Nobody will be surprised if it's the same scenario in 2023.

"I hope the state buys into this rivalry because it could be really fun. It could help build the game really well," Welstad said. "We got some work to do because they're going to keep getting better and better and we're going to challenge our girls to keep getting better."

It was a moment to savor for Minot.

"Every Majette and every future Majette is very proud of us and we're very proud of what we've accomplished," said Fricke, named tournament MVP. "It's a great day for our team and our school."

Minot 75, Century 68

Minot — 35 40 -- 75

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Century — 36 32 -- 68

Minot -- Maggie Fricke 27, Mariah Evenson 18, Maya Aguilar 3, Avery Lunde 8, Taury Hight 10, Leelee Bell 9. Totals: 24-44 FG, Three-pointers: 7-16 (Fricke 2, Hight 2, Evenson, Aguilar, Bell), 20-23 FT, 32 Rebounds (Bell 15), 16 Fouls, 9 Assists (Fricke 5), 18 Turnovers, 4 Blocked shots (Bell 3), 4 Steals (Fricke 3).

Century -- Eden Fridley 9, Delani Clarke 3, Bergan Kinnebrew 21, Logan Nissley 32, Zoie Austin 3. Totals: 24-57 FG, Three-pointers: 5-21 (Nissley 4, Austin), 15-22 FT, 26 Rebounds (Nissley 11), 19 Fouls (Fridley 5), 6 Assists (Nissley 4), 13 Turnovers, 2 Blocked shots (Nissley, Kinnebrew), 4 Steals (Kinnebrew 2, Nissley 2).

Records: Minot 22-4; Century Century 24-1.

All-Tournament Team

MVP: Maggie Fricke, Minot.

Minot: Maggie Fricke, Leelee Bell, Mariah Evenson.

Century: Logan Nissley, Bergan Kinnebrew.

Fargo Davies: Ava Wild, Ashton Safranski.

Bismarck: Peyton Neumiller, Bismarck.

Grand Forks Red River: Jocelyn Schiller.

Legacy: Whitney Eckroth.

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