Bismarck bounces back in 3rd-place contest
It wasn’t the finish top-ranked Bismarck was hoping for, yet despite its upset loss to Minot High on Friday afternoon, the Demons finished their season with a win.
Bismarck, the West Region regular-season and tournament champion, won the Class A state tournament third-place game on Saturday, defeating No. 5 Fargo Davies 75-70 at the Minot State Dome.
The Demons (22-3) were sluggish to start, taking more than six minutes to tally their first field goal.
In need of adjustment, Bismarck called timeout to regroup.
“We just looked at each other and decided that we need to get going,” said senior forward Keisha Engelhardt, who tied for a game high with 25 points. “We weren’t going to finish this with a loss.”
Engelhardt, the West Region’s third-leading scorer (17.9 ppg) and second-leading rebounder (10.8 rpg), took even longer to get going. Her first points didn’t arrive until the 6:55 mark of the opening frame.
Her basket sparked a 21-6 run, which carried Bismarck into the break with a six-point advantage.
The Demons led the rest of the way.
“We just wanted to finish out with a win,” senior guard McKenzie Kiefer said. “We definitely didn’t want to be in this game, but getting a win today out of this group is what we wanted to do.”
Bismarck coach Dallas Hinderer was pleased with the way his team bounced back.
“We weren’t in the game that we wanted to be in, but winning our last game is a testament to this team,” he said. “It was a tough game for us to recover from yesterday, but we dug deep and were able to come out on the winning side of this one.”
Bismarck will graduate seven players this spring, seniors that have consistently contributed to the Demons’ success, Hinderer said.
“They’re definitely going to be missed by our program,” Hinderer said. “We’ll be talking about this group of seniors for quite some time.”
The Demons carried their momentum into the second half with a 7-0 run out of the break.
Down by 13, minutes into the final frame, Davies pulled itself back into contention thanks in large part to junior forward Alexis Klabo, who scored 19 of her 25 points in the second half.
With 1:03 to play, the Eagles had trimmed the deficit to one, but couldn’t erase it entirely.
“I think we were a little more aggressive offensively,” Safranski said. “We took care of the basketball a little better than we did against Shanley. Our girls battled today.”
Fourth place marks the Eagles’ best finish at the state tournament since the program’s inauguration in 2010. Highlighted by an upset victory over two-time defending state champion Century, the Eagles (17-8) finished the tournament 1-2.
“The way we came out and played this year, every girl on our team got better,” Safranski said. “I’m very proud of the girls. To win that first-round game was very impressive, and today, I thought we fought hard against a very good team in Bismarck High.”
Girls: No. 4 Century 55, No. 2 West Fargo 51
Two-time defending state champion Century recovered from its opening-round defeat with consecutive victories.
The Patriots (21-4) capped their tournament with their second straight win on Saturday, a 55-51 decision over second-ranked West Fargo at the Minot State Dome to claim fifth place at the Class A state tournament.
Macy Lynch and Katie Scherr were the only two scorers in double figures for the Patriots, each recording 11.
Cassidy Nelson finished with 12 points to lead the Packers (21-4), following by East Region player of the year Cassidy Thorson, who had eight.
Boys: No. 1 Century 72, Fargo South 58
Top-ranked Century rebounded from its semifinal defeat to St. Mary’s, defeating Fargo South in the Class A state tournament third-place game 72-58 at the Minot State Dome.
Ben Holen and Ramey Schatz tallied 11 points apiece to lead the Patriots. Tyler Rudolph was the only other Century scorer in double figures, finishing with 10 along with a team-high seven rebounds.
Colton Lloyd led the Bruins with 18 points and five assists.
West Region champions Century finished the season 23-2, while Fargo South dropped to 15-10.
Boys: Wahpeton 60, Bismarck 59
The Huskies handed Bismarck its second loss of the Class A state tournament on Saturday, narrowly defeating the Demons 60-59 at the Minot State Dome.
The win gave Wahpeton (19-6) fifth-place honors.
Jack Christiansen led all scorers with 23 points for the Huskies along with eight rebounds.
James Iron Eyes had 22 points for Bismarck, followed by teammate Taylor Schafer, who had 11.
Bismarck finished 17-8 on the year.
Joe Mellenbruch covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @Mellenbruch_MDN.