CLASS B STATE TOURNAMENT AT THE FARGODOME: Jorgenson’s second-half surge lifts Benson County to fifth-place finish

FARGO – The lone underclassman in Benson County’s senior-loaded rotation, sophomore Andrea Jorgenson made it a point to get her teammates a more notable piece of hardware.

The 5-foot-8 forward scored all 15 of her points in the second half to help the Wildcats rally to a 50-47 win over Beach in the fifth-place game of the Class B girls state basketball tournament Saturday at the Fargodome.

Benson County, which trailed most of the contest, went on an 11-2 run in the fourth quarter before holding off the Region 7 champions.

“We wanted fifth-place a lot more than sixth,” said Jorgenson, who shot 7-of-9 from the field. “The momentum changed when we stopped turning it over.”

The Region 2 Wildcats – in just their third year as a co-op of Leeds and Maddock – were hindered by shooting woes, turnovers and fouls throughout the game. One offensive spurt was all they needed.

With Jorgenson scoring the bulk of her points inside during the third quarter, senior sharpshooter Katelynn Engh found herself open in the fourth, hitting a pair of 3-pointers in the late run that put the Wildcats over the hump for good.

Benson County had just one of its 17 turnovers in the game’s final stretch, a statistic which proved the difference.

“We hurt ourselves,” Benson County coach Kent Neppl said. “I don’t think it was anything (Beach) did. They’re a great team with a great coach, but we weren’t taking care of the ball.”

In the first half, where Beach took a 21-14 lead after an 11-2 run of its own, neither team exhibited fluidity offensively. Both squads combined to go 16-of-43 from the field and 9-of-18 at the free-throw line.

With 6-foot senior Becca Eberle stuck to the bench with three fouls to start the third quarter, Neppl figured Jorgenson would compensate for the absence.

“She’s a heck of an athlete,” Neppl said of Jorgenson. “Some days she’s lights out and some days she just knows her role. She knew what she had to do tonight.”

Beach junior Bailey Waldal spearheaded the Buccaneers most of the contest, netting a game-high 19 points. When Beach went inside, it was junior Cydni Stedman (11 points, eight rebounds) doing the damage.

The Wildcats found a way to contain the duo down the stretch, but Beach wasn’t completely out of contention.

A pair of Beach buckets in the final minute put the Bucs within a 3-pointer of tying the contest. They had a look with three seconds left, but junior Hailee Farstveet’s attempt at overtime bounced off the front of the rim as the horn sounded.

“(Benson County) shot a lot better at the end,” Beach coach Bob Waldal said. “They made some tough, key shots outside and that was good enough to win. They played good defense, too, and our defense sputtered.”

Engh finished with 12 points and senior Meghan Jorgenson had 12 for Benson County, which finished its season 26-2.