OT victory sends Bombers to district title game

If you were anywhere in the Minot Municipal Auditorium immediately following Berthold’s 49-42 overtime win against Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood, chances are you heard the loud screams of joy coming from the Bombers’ locker room.

From a team that winless in District 12 play the last two seasons, to one that will play for a district championship on Monday against Bishop Ryan, Berthold has completed an impressive turnaround.

The Bombers’ semifinal win against the second-seeded Mavericks (15-6) on Saturday guaranteed them a top-two seed in the Region 6 tournament. Berthold (14-7) hasn’t played in a region game in five years, and hasn’t participated in the district championship in more than 20 years, according to Bombers coach Kayla Lambrecht.

“It was definitely one our goals at the beginning of the season to make the regional tournament,” Lambrecht said. “Being in the district championship is … I don’t have words for it. It’s just exciting. Win or lose on Monday, we’re still going to regionals.”

After squandering a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Bombers outscored M-L-S 9-2 in the extra session to earn a spot in the district title game. M-L-S junior Hailee Depute scored the first basket of overtime to give the Mavericks their first lead of the game. But Berthold tallied the final nine points.

Berthold senior guard Bethany Limke knocked down two free throws to tie the game at 42 and a basket by sophomore Cassidy Limke put the Bombers in front for good. Baskets by senior forward Hannah Hornberger and junior forward Madison Erickson stretched Berthold’s lead to six. A free throw by Cassidy Limke in the waning moments gave Berthold a three-possession lead.

“We just never gave up,” Hornberger said. “We kept pushing and pushing and gave it our all. We left it all on the court tonight.”

Said Bethany Limke: “Everyone was just really encouraging and we just knew we could do it. We had confidence in each other the whole time.”

Hornberger finished in double figures with 10 points.

Leading 37-27 with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the game looked well in hand for the third-seeded Bombers. But, after struggling from the field all game, M-L-S find the bottom of the net and closed regulation on a 13-3 run. M-L-S senior guard Sierra Smith’s fourth bucket of the game pulled the Mavericks with three and junior guard Aubree Vendsel’s only basket of the second half had them down by just one. After two free throws by Bethany Limke, Smith banked home a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 12 seconds left to force overtime.

“It was a sense of urgency,” M-L-S coach Wayne Brackenbury said. “We didn’t have a sense of urgency early on. We have to have a sense of urgency. You got to want it early, not just in the last few minutes. You need to have it the whole game.”

Smith scored 17 of her game-high 20 points in the second half and was responsible for all but nine points in the final 21 minutes.

The Bombers scored the first six points and held a 10-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. Bethany Limke tallied seven of her team-high 17 points in the second quarter, including Berthold’s only 3 of the contest. The Bombers led 21-16 at the intermission.

Bethany Limke has been apart of Berthold’s past struggles and is relishing in the team’s recent success in her final season.

“We just work together as a team a lot more,” she said. “We run through plays and are a lot more patient in our offense.”

For M-L-S to join Berthold in the region tournament, it will have to defeat Our Redeemer’s Christian School on Monday at 4:30 p.m.

Mike Kraft covers high school athletics and hockey. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.