New Town’s title hopes dashed
FARGO – New Town coach Orville Drosdal has always preached physicality.
It’s been a staple of the second-ranked Eagles, whose defense flummoxed all but one team it faced during the regular season.
New Town fell on its own sword, however, in the first round of Class B girls state basketball tournament on Thursday at the Fargodome.
The Eagles racked up 25 fouls, gave fourth-ranked Thompson 40 attempts at the free-throw line and let a late lead fade in a 58-52 loss to the Tommies.
New Town, which has lost four straight state tournament games dating back to last season, will face Benson County at 3 p.m. today for a ticket to the consolation final.
“We talked to the girls about being physical, but you can’t foul shooters,” Drosdal said. “You can be a little more physical off the ball at (the state) level, but that’s it. Fouls really hurt us tonight.”
Thompson (24-3), which shot 28-of-40 at the stripe, didn’t lead until there was just a minute, 30 seconds left in the contest. THS junior Bethany Ivesdal hit a pair of free throws to make it 53-52.
New Town’s three subsequent possessions were turnovers and the Tommies hit five of their final six free-throw attempts to ice the contest.
The biggest bur in New Town’s saddle was having freshman gunner Jaye Two Bears locked to the bench. Two Bears, the team’s second-leading scorer and assists leader, picked up her fourth foul in the first minute of the third quarter and logged just 11 minutes.
Sisters and standouts Gabby and Mia Wilkinson also had bouts of foul trouble and saw their minutes dwindle.
“We just kept attacking them and they kept fouling,” Thompson coach Jason Brend said. “When (Two Bears) was in trouble, we wanted to post her up and make her foul us.”
When New Town was in the normal flow of its offense it flourished.
The Eagles held a 10-point cushion for much of the first half and led 32-23 at intermission. But the Tommies, which had already shot 18 free throws, weren’t going to change their tack in the second half.
Thompson began to whittle away at New Town’s lead when it started the third quarter on an 8-1 run and, from there, it was a taut contest.
The three turnovers in the final minute were hard for Drosdal to swallow.
“We just got rattled,” Drosdal said. “Thompson’s a good team, so we knew they weren’t going to go away. This is tough for us, but tonight we’re going to get some rest and aim for fifth (place).”
Senior Taylor McGrady paced New Town with 18 points and Mia Wilkinson chipped in 13. Thompson was led by junior Karleigh Weber’s 18.