Skyhawks, Trojans advance to Region 5 finals

With an early 14-point deficit staring them in the face Tuesday night, the Shiloh Christian Skyhawks didn’t panic.

They just settled down and played Shiloh basketball.

The Skyhawks erased that 14-point deficit and turned the first Region 5 girls basketball tournament semifinal game of the night into a see-saw affair, finally emerging from the fight with a 55-50 victory over the New Salem-Almont Holsteins at the Mandan High School gymnasium.

Shiloh, which will play Turtle Lake-Mercer-McClusky in the championship game Thursday night, carried a six-point lead into the final eight minutes, but trailed 45-43 midway through. However, the Skyhawks quickly surged ahead and held on to advance to the region championship game for the fifth consecutive year.

“It was a really rough start for us. New Salem came out and played so well and we really struggled,” said Shiloh senior Allie Mischel, who scored 13 points. “We had to shake it off and start playing Shiloh basketball, which is tough defense, sharing the ball, and executing. There was a lot of time left. We knew we could come back.”

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New Salem-Almont hit on all cylinders in the first six-plus minutes of the game, getting point production from the inside and outside. Frontliners Abby Hulm (7) and McKenzie Kuhn (2) combined for nine of the Holsteins’ first 17 points, while guard Mariah Fitterer added six. Meanwhile, the Skyhawks didn’t score until Brittan Grubb netted a free throw with 4:55 remaining in the first, and didn’t register their first field goal until Krista Ulmer tossed in a short jumper at the 3:16 mark.

“We really had it going early on,” said Holsteins’ coach Jerome Slag. “Our pressure got to them and we were moving the ball very well and making shots. It was the kind of start you hope for, but against good teams, you have to maintain that level of play throughout the game.”

Ulmer’s first basket made it 13-3 New Salem-Almont, but after back-to-back 2-pointers by Fitterer and Kuhn, the Skyhawks made their move. Ulmer scored seven points in an 11-0 run that pulled Shiloh within three, 17-14. The Holsteins later went up by six, 25-19, but Shiloh finished off the first half on a 6-1 run and trailed 26-25 at the intermission.

“I’m very proud of the way the girls responded. They kept battling and got themselves back in the game,” said Shiloh coach Daryl Bearstail. “New Salem came ready to play and they made things very difficult for us at both ends of the court. But the girls didn’t let it get to them. They kept their composure and battled back.”

An Ulmer free throw 17 seconds into the third quarter evened the score at 26-26, but the Holsteins answered with a pair of Kuhn baskets over the next 1:19. Later, it was 35-31 New Salem-Almont when the Skyhawks began a critical 10-0 run. Ulmer, who finished with 19 points, netted the first seven tallies of the run, and Mischel capped it off with a 3-pointer with six seconds remaining in the third. Mischel’s shot from the right wing hit the front of the rim, bounced straight up and dropped through the net.

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New Salem-Almont responded with a 10-2 run and led 45-43 with 3:50 left, but successive 3-pointers by Mischel and Amber Stevahn put the Skyhawks up 49-45 with 2:41 to play.

A McKayla Kautzman basket moments later cut the deficit in half, and it stayed 49-47 until Ulmer scored on a putback with 1:03 remaining.

An empty possession by each team followed, but with 24.1 seconds left, Mischel sank a pair of free throws to make it 53-47. Fitterer netted a 3-pointer eight seconds later, but the Skyhawks answered with a Grubb free throw with 15.5 seconds to play. Grubb added another charity toss 10 seconds later after a New Salem-Almont miss.

Shiloh had an 18-6 advantage in 3-pointers, and 14 second-chance points compared to eight for the Holsteins.

“Those are a couple of stats that really stand out,” Slag said. “They have good shooters, and they worked hard getting those offensive boards. They’re a good team. Give them credit.”

Kuhn, Fitterer and Hulm scored 15, 14 and 13 points, respectively, for the Holsteins, who will play Flasher in Thursday’s third-place game.

NSA (50): Brenna Hoger 1-4 2-2 4, McKayla Kautzman 2-5 0-0 4, Meggan Severson 0-1 0-0 0, Abby Hulm 6-14 1-1 13, Mariah Fitterer 5-17 2-3 14, Krysten Doll 0-2 0-0 0, McKenzie Kuhn 6-11 3-7 15. Totals: 20-54 8-13 50.

SC (55): Krista Ulmer 7-12 4-7 19, Paige Murray 2-11 0-0 4, Allie Mischel 4-8 2-2 13, Brittan Grubb 4-8 3-6 12, Amber Stevahn 3-9 0-3 7. Totals: 20-48 9-18 55.

3-pointers: NSA 2 (Fitterer 2), SC 6 (Mischel 3, Mischel 1, Grubb 1, Stevahn 1). Rebounds: NSA 31 (Kuhn 9), SC 37 (Stevahn 15). Assists: NSA 11 (Fitterer 4), SC 6 (Mischel 3, Grubb 3). Steals: NSA 6 (Kautzman 2, Kuhn 2), SC 8 (Ulmer 3). Turnovers: NSA 13, SC 17. Fouls: NSA 18, SC 15. Fouled out: None.

TLMM 44, Flasher 28

It took six years, but Turtle Lake-Mercer-McClusky is back in the Region 5 tournament championship game.

The Trojans advanced for the first time since 2010 with a 44-28 victory over Flasher in the late semifinal game.

Senior Mariah Sellon scored a game-high 17 points for the Trojans, who improved to 18-5.

“It’s been a long time for us and it feels great,” Sellon said. “The goal at the start of the year was to be in this position and we worked really hard to get here. Hopefully we’ll take it a step further on Thursday.”

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The Trojans will face a familiar foe on Thursday night. TLMM and Shiloh Christian met on Jan. 12, with the Skyhawks escaping with a 34-33 victory.

“That was a really hard-fought game … so close,” Sellon said. “Our defense really stepped up that night and that’s something that has to happen on Thursday. Knowing that we played them that close gives us confidence. We know we can play with them.”

“Both teams defended very well. It was a defensive struggle,” added TLMM coach Gary Ballard. “We lost the game, but we learned a lot from it. We’ll be ready to play.”

TLMM controlled Tuesday night’s semifinal from the start, never looking back after scoring the first five points of the game. The Trojans led 12-6 at the end of the first quarter and 22-11 at halftime.

TLMM started the third quarter on a 6-0 run to stretch its lead to 17, 28-11, and after a 7-0 Flasher spurt, the Trojans finished off the third on a 8-0 tear and carried a 36-18 lead into the final eight minutes.

The Trojans held an opponent to 40 points or less for the 13th time this season. They’re allowing 41 points per game.

“Playing good defense is what we do best,” Sellon said. “We spend a lot of time working on defense and it’s paying off. Everybody on our team works hard at it.”

Trista Crimmins added 13 points and a team-high seven rebounds for TLMM.

Secora Schmidt had 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulldogs.

TLMM (44): Brooke Goven 0-1 0-0 0, Mariah Sellon 6-13 4-5 17, Kylee Reiser 0-1 0-0 0, Kennedy Sondrol 0-11 0-0 0, Morgan Reiser 2-4 0-1 4, Tatum Fylling 0-2 5-6 5, Trista Crimmins 5-11 2-2 13, Victoria Goven 2-6 1-1 5. Totals: 15-49 12-15 44.

FLASHER (28): Whitney Leingang 0-1 0-3 0, Secora Schmidt 5-17 0-0 11, Cadee Heinle 1-1 0-1 2, Josie VandenBurg 3-13 0-0 9, Emma Marion 1-4 1-1 3, Brooke Froelich 0-5 0-0 0, Chanci Kraft 1-1 0-0 3. 11-42 1-5 28.

3-pointers: TLMM 2 (Sellon 1, Crimmins 1), F 5 (VandenBurg 3, Schmidt 1, Kraft 1). Rebounds: TLMM 36 (Crimmins 7), F 35 (Schmidt 11). Assists: TLMM 3 (Sellon 1, Sondrol 1, Crimmins 1), F 3 (VandenBurg 2). Steals: TLMM 9 (Sellon 4, Sondrol 4), F 6 (VandenBurg 3). Turnovers: TLMM 16, F 21. Fouls: TLMM 12, F 13. Fouled out: None.

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