BY GREG FLINT email@example.com
---- — BISMARCK – The Bismarck-Henning and Seeger girls’ basketball teams finished fourth and fifth respectively in the 2013 Bismarck-Henning Blue Devil Classic.
The hosts dropped a 34-25 decision to the Fisher Bunnies in the third place game while the Patriots defeated the Salt Fork Storm 36-27 for fifth.
The Blue Devils started the game with a cold spell against a 1-2-2 zone defense put on by the Bunnies. The team struggled to create any movement or find gaps in the zone and trailed 8-0 after one quarter.
Things changed as the next quarter started. The zone remained the same but the attack got much more aggressive and the Blue Devils outscored their opponent 11-4 to trail only 12-11 at intermission.
Asked what he did across the break between quarters, Bismarck-Henning head coach Mike Stephens said he challenged his players.
“We’ve had trouble when we’ve fallen behind,” he said, “so I asked them if they wanted to lay down or if they wanted to continue to play. They came back out, played well and got back into the game.”
A pair of free throws at the start of the third quarter by Brooke Walsh put Bismarck-Henning in the lead 13-12, but Fishers came right back to regain the lead with a jumper.
Two minutes later, Walsh picked up her third foul and headed to the bench where she remained until the start of the fourth quarter.
The Blue Devils pulled within three at 19-16 on a trey by Maddie Winkler but once again, a Bunny answered in kind to make it 22-16 going into the fourth quarter.
Walsh returned and promptly made a pair of free throw. Addie Voyles hit a three-pointer to cut the margin again, but Fishers came back with a jumper.
Walsh made a hook shot but then drew her fifth foul. Fishers began to work the clock and Bismarck-Henning had little choice except to foul repeatedly. The Bunnies made enough of the ensuing free throws to pull away and win 34-25.
“It hurt when we lost Walsh on fouls,” said Stephens, “but we still played well. Maddie [Winkler] handled their press well and [Lindsey] Andrews did a good job against their point guard. We just never really could dig out from that 8-0 hole.”
In the fifth-place game, the Storm won the opening quarter 12-7 and kept the lead 17-14 at halftime. They restored their five-point margin early in the third quarter at 21-16, but then things began to swing in favor of the Patriots.
Seeger had struggled defensively in the first half as Salt Fork took the lead according to Patriot coach Brent Rademacher, but he said he changed some things before the team returned to the floor for the third quarter.
“We seemed tired and our traps weren’t getting us any steals,” he explained. “We made some adjustments – switching to a zone press – in the second half and I think it helped.”
The Patriots began to eat into the Storm five-point lead as the third quarter progressed. They held their opponents to only four points in the final five minutes of the stanza but still trailed 25-24.
The fourth quarter saw Seeger tie the game then take the lead on a free throw by Miranda Synesael and three-point play by Hannah Gustus.
The Patriots would later give up a jumper to Logan Sanford of the Storm, but that basket would account for the lone points they would score in the quarter. Seeger added to their lead and came out on top 36-27.
“There are some really good teams here,” said Rademacher, “and I think playing them will help us in the future.”
For Salt Fork coach Jeff Carleton, the game came down to shooting percentages.
“We shot 46 percent in the first half and only 26 percent in the second,” he said. “Our girls played well. We rebounded well and didn’t have many turnovers. We just couldn’t put the ball in the basket in the second half.”
In the title game, Watseka defeated Shiloh 49-41 while Unity beat Villa Grove 33-32 in the eighth place game.
In the 10th place game, Westville was able to defeat North Vermillion 42-37. Adrienne Pate had 19 points for the Tigers, while Ji'Cee Lacey had 11.
Devin Curry of Watseka was named the MVP of the tournament and was named to the All-Tournament team along with teammate Taylor Bauer. Walsh, Synesael, Fisher's Caitlin Cole, Shiloh's Lauren Moses and Unity's Rebecca Maxwell rounded out the All-Tournament team.
Greg Flint is a freelance writer/photographer for the Commercial-News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org