'Went down swinging': BHS ends Jays' season in state qualifier
The Jamestown High School girls basketball team faced Bismarck High on Saturday.
BISMARCK — Midway through Saturday's state qualifier against Jamestown, Bismarck High head girls basketball coach Bill Shetler turned to his team and said:
"You want to go to State?"
Jamestown head girls basketball coach Andy Skunberg overheard Shetler and replied:
"I want to go to State."
Through the final 10 minutes of the game, the Jays did everything they could to get Skunberg a trip to Fargo but unfortunately for the head coach, it just wasn't in the cards.
The Demons ended Jamestown's season with a 66-59 defeat of the Jays in state qualifier No. 1 of the West Region Tournament. BHS will enter its second-straight state tourney as the No. 4 seed out of the West Region. Legacy, Minot and Bismarck Century will be the other three teams representing the WDA at next week's state tournament.
"They hit some more shots than we did," Skunberg said of the loss. "Defensively, I thought we played well. They were a little more aggressive on rebounds — they got a couple of putbacks that kind of killed us but give it to the girls. They played their hearts out and the seniors went out swinging. That's all you can ask for."
This year was a little bit of a roller coaster for the Jays.
They began the year at 8-4 and were one of the top-four teams in the WDA but at the end of January, shots weren't hitting like the Jays were used to. The squad lost six straight, four of which were decided by three points or less.
In true Blue Jay fashion, the squad rallied and fought for a position in their third-straight WDA tournament. The Blue Jays ended their regular season with three-straight wins to pick up the No. 5 seed heading into the regional tournament.
That same fight continued through the Jays' final game of the season.
The Jays and Demons battled it out in the first half and by the time the halftime break rolled around, only six points separated the two teams.
Breanna Oettle was the Jays' leading scorer after the first half with eight points while Bismarck's Jersey Berg led all scorers with 18 points.
The Demons kicked off the second half with a 12-5 run to put them up 43-30. Blue Jay senior Teagan Bosche hit a big-time trey to bring the Jays back within 10. Berg capitalized on the Demons' next possession, hitting one from deep but the lead didn't last long as Oettle hit her second 3 of the half to make it a 46-36 ball game.
Back-to-back 3s were exactly what the Jays needed.
Out of a timeout, the Jays locked in defensively and worked to take care of the ball on offense. The Jays went on a 14-2 run in the final six minutes of play. The Demons capitalized at the line late, draining all eight to end it 66-59.
Oettle led the Jays' in total scoring with 16 points. She also racked up three assists. Ella Falk tallied 13 points, five assists and six rebounds. Bosche ended her Blue Jay career with a 10-point, 3-assist performance. As a team, Jamestown shot 27% better than they did against Dickinson in Friday's loser-out game. From the field, the Jays were 47% and 48% from 3-point range.
Saturday marked the end of the road for eight members of the Blue Jay squad. Oettle, Ella Falk, Bosche, Rylee Joseph, Katie Falk, Haylie Hakanson, Peyton Waliser and Jada Walter are all set to graduate this spring. The group of eight has been playing basketball together since elementary school and have all been members of the varsity squad for at least two seasons.
Ella Falk ended her final season as a Blue Jay with 419 points and 91 assists. The senior is now the single-game scoring record holder, having racked up 41 points in the Jays' final game of the regular season. She also set a new school record for the most 3-pointers made in a game with nine. In her five years spent with the Blue Jays, she has scored more than 1,000 points.
"They are a group that I am going to miss, they've meant a lot to the program," Skunberg said. "They've got a bright future in front of them with whatever they do next. I wish them all the best."