Majettes outlast Turtle Mountain

BISMARCK – Todd Magnuson didn’t like his players’ demeanor in the first half. He didn’t like their selfish plays, their defense or the way they rebounded the basketball. At halftime, he really didn’t like his clipboard.

Magnuson, the Minot High girls basketball coach, delivered a fiery message during the intermission Thursday at the Bismarck Civic Center.

His team responded with an inspired second half that lifted the Majettes to a 72-58 victory over Turtle Mountain in the West Region tournament quarterfinals. Third-seeded Minot plays the No. 2 seed, Century, at 3:45 p.m. today with the winner clinching an automatic berth into next week’s Class A state tournament.

The Majettes (12-7) split their two regular-season contests with Turtle Mountain, as each team protected its home court. In a neutral setting, the Bravettes (9-11) took a 30-27 lead at the break, inducing Magnuson’s extra-inspirational address.

“Let’s just say I tossed my clipboard a little bit and I just told them how I felt,” he said. “I just thought they played very bad the first half.

“I picked out a few kids at halftime … I put them on the line. That’s not something I like to do, but I had to. I’m tired of watching the selfishness that gets us in trouble.”

In the first half, Minot assisted on just four baskets and committed 11 turnovers. Poor shot selection led to a 36.0 field-goal percentage. And they finished minus-1 in rebounding margin.

Minot’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde phenomenon turned for the better in the final 18 minutes. The Majettes opened the frame by scoring the first seven points – taking the lead for good – as part of a 12-2 spurt that put them ahead 39-32 with 14 minutes remaining.

“Our intensity, our heart, our want to win, our work ethic, just everything was much better the second half,” said Minot sophomore center Cassie Askvig, who turned in game highs of 20 points and 14 rebounds.

The game leveled off for the next nine minutes, with Turtle Mountain closing to 57-53 at the 5:15 mark. Minot churned out a 13-0 run over the next 4:15 that put the game away.

“The last 5:15 was our turnovers,” Turtle Mountain coach Curt Keplin said. “I don’t know what the final count is (18) but the turnovers were huge for us.”

Magnuson credits his defense and rebounding for the second-half turnaround. Both aspects showed marked improvements, but the Majettes’ offense is what truly caught fire. Minot shot 54.2 percent (13-24) after the break, when it outscored the Bravettes 45-28.

In the second half, Askvig had 14 of her 20 points, junior wing McKale Duttenhefer had 11 of her 18, senior guard Jayden Moum had nine of her 13 and junior forward Brooke Suko had seven of her 10. Those four Majettes combined to make 5 of 9 shots from behind the arc in the latter frame.

“We were hoping they weren’t going to knock down as many 3s as they did (in Minot’s 77-52 home win over Turtle Mountain),” Keplin said. “Unfortunately, they did and that was probably the difference in the game.”

The Bravettes made just 38.9 percent of their field goals. Ashley Davis (13), Winter Monette (11) and Faith Dionne (11) all scored in double figures for Turtle Mountain, which plays No. 7 seed St. Mary’s at 6:15 tonight.

Minot now faces the daunting task that is Century, which blasted the Majettes 47-18 and 77-49 in the regular season.

“Hopefully we can give Century a game,” Magnuson said.

Ryan Holmgren covers Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.