Taylor Whittaker.jpg

Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin sophomore Audrey Taylor, left, steals the ball from Georgetown-Ridge Farm junior Bailee Whittaker in the first half of Thursday’s Vermilion Valley Conference game at Wilcox Gymnasium in Bismarck. The Blue Devils defeated the Buffaloes 45-17

BISMARCK — Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin junior Sophia Rome has taken on a new role this season for the Blue Devils girls basketball team.

Rome spent her first two seasons focusing on being a key contributor on the defensive end.

This season, she is expected to be a leader of a team that started three freshmen on Thursday night in it Vermilion Valley Conference contest against Georgetown-Ridge Farm.

Rome stepped up with a double-double of 14 points and 18 rebounds as the Blue Devils picked up their first win with a 45-17 triumph over the Buffaloes at the Wilcox Gymnasium.

“It was important to get this win after the losses that we’ve had to start the year,’’ Rome said. “I think this will give us more confidence and I think it will help push us to compete for more wins this season.’’

Bis-Henn/Ross-Al (1-6 overall, 1-5 in the VVC) missed its first nine shots of the game, but the Blue Devils got things rolling with their defense.

Freshman Ella Myers had a pair of steals and layups as BHRA closed the first quarter on a 9-0 run.

“We started playing tighter defense and we were talking more on defense,’’ said Rome. “We were able to turn those turnovers into easy baskets.’’

Georgetown-Ridge Farm (0-8 overall, 0-7 in the VVC) were guilty of 12 first-half turnovers which led to 13 points for Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin.

“Right now, we are very young and we are still learning,’’ said Geo-RF coach Brad Russell. “I think the biggest thing that we need to learn to do is step to the basketball. A lot of those turnovers were passes where we stopped and we were trying to catch them flat-footed. At the varsity level, there are too many people that are going to run right through that and take the ball away from you.’’

Even when the Buffaloes were holding onto the ball, they struggled with the offense as they made just 2-of-18 shots in the first half.

That’s where Rome made her presence felt as she pulled down nine defensive rebounds to go along with nine offensive boards.

“She has been playing varsity basketball for several years,’’ said Russell of the Bis-Henn/Ross-Al forward. “She go to watch a really good senior class last year and she saw how to do things the right way and that experience is paying off.’’

Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin coach Mike Stephens acknowledges that this season has been an adjustment.

“Rome is a kid that has been through the wars,’’ he said. “She has hit some big shots and she is a tough kid. We are trying to move her out on the perimeter more because she is a good outside shooter.’’

While Rome finished with a double-double, Myers was the leading scorer for the Blue Devils with 17 points.

“Myers is going to be a very good basketball player before she is done,’’ Stephens said. “She is just like any other freshman. She has things to learn, but she is very athletic and she looks to score.’’

Freshman Sydney Spesard was the leading scorer for Georgetown-Ridge Farm with 8 points — 7 coming in the third quarter.

“I thought our offense had a flow to it in that third quarter,’’ Russell said. “We were finding some openings and it led to us making some shots.

“We have come a long way this season. We are understanding how to get open, not it’s all about executing it on a regular basis.’’

Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin is back in action on Saturday with a game at Milford, while Georgetown-Ridge Farm is idle until Wednesday when it will host Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin in a non-conference contest.

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