Showing some heart
Todd Magnuson knows that around 8:10 p.m. Tuesday, an electrocardiogram of his heart would’ve made his cardiologist queasy. Heavy breathing, an increased heart rate – all signs the Minot High girls basketball coach needed to relax.
But in the confines of the Majettes’ locker room at Magic City Campus, there were some words – maybe even some choice words – his team needed to hear, said Magnuson, who missed two weeks earlier this season with a heart condition.
“I actually raised my voice for the first time this winter,” he said. “Against doctor’s orders, I raised my voice. I was not a happy camper at halftime. I have not done that in a while. I was very upset with the way some girls were playing.”
Magnuson’s tongue-lashing had the desired effect, motivating Minot to erase a slim halftime deficit and outscore Williston by 17 in the second half en route to a 64-49 victory on Senior Night.
The Majettes (12-7 overall, 9-7 West Region) stumbled out of the gate after halftime, falling behind by seven points, but churned out a 29-4 run over the next 10 minutes to put the game on ice.
“He said we needed to step it up and that this isn’t the Majette team he’s seen all season,” Minot senior guard Jayden Moum said. “We wanted to prove to him that we can play like he knows we can.”
The Majettes ratcheted up their rebounding in the second frame – after allowing Williston to snare 10 offensive boards before the break – and converted nearly a dozen transition buckets after the break.
Moum, Minot’s lone senior, finished with her second-highest scoring output of the season with 15 points to go with five rebounds, five assists and four steals with three turnovers.
Moum’s not a high-usage type player, but fills the stat sheet on a nightly basis. Magnuson calls her “the glue for our team.”
“It’s a great way for her to end her Senior Night here,” Magnuson said. “She got to the basket, she hit some big shots, she was big at the free-throw line – 4-for-4. You couldn’t ask for more from a senior on her Senior Night. I’m glad we got a win for her tonight.”
Early on, the Coyotes (3-15, 2-14) appeared primed to leave Minot with a bitter taste in its mouth in both teams’ regular-season finale.
After trailing 10-5, Williston ran off 14 of the next 16 points to seize a 19-12 lead 7:52 before halftime.
In the final 30 seconds of the first half, Minot sophomore forward Cassie Askvig scored four of her game-high 21 points to pull the Majettes within 28-26 at the break.
Williston’s Shelby Njos drained a pair of free throws that put the visitors ahead 36-29 with 16:05 to play. Then Minot hit the gas – scoring 29 of the next 33 points – and fine-tuned its defense, limiting the Coyotes to five field goals the rest of the way.
“We had a totally different team (in the second half),” Magnuson said. “I mean, it was a night-and-day, 180-degree turnaround. I thought defensively we got after it a lot harder and we rebounded way better.”
Njos finished with a team-high 13 points for Williston and Maria Semenko added 10.
Minot junior guard Sophie Bangson chipped in 10 points and six boards.
The Majettes finished with a 33-25 rebounding advantage. Askvig grabbed a game-high seven boards, but Magnuson said at times, Askvig’s teammates can ask too much of their rangy sophomore. Case and point was the first half.
“We just got lazy and didn’t box out,” he said. “We thought Cassie was going to get all the rebounds and we can’t expect Cassie to get all the rebounds for us. We have to have everybody hitting the boards for us.”
The focus on protecting the glass following Magnuson’s hearty halftime speech helped Minot churn out its fourth win in five games. In doing so, the Majettes locked up the No. 3 seed in the West Region tournament, where they will play sixth-seeded Turtle Mountain in the first round on March 6 in Bismarck.
Minot split the season series with the Bravettes. The Majettes coughed up a 19-point lead in losing their third game of the season, but won the rematch handily at home. Magnuson said the Bravettes are a scary matchup because of their ability to shoot the ball. Minot has more than a week to prepare for a potential return to the Class A state tournament after missing it last year.
“Tomorrow we get back at it at practice and we have Belcourt first round at WDA,” Moum said. “That’s the first step.”
Ryan Holmgren covers Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.