A five-minute lull midway through the second half proved too much for the Minot High girls basketball team to overcome Thursday at Magic City Campus.
The Majettes still nearly dealt No. 1 Bismarck its first in-state loss of the season, but fell short, losing 71-66.
Minot (8-6 overall, 6-5 West Region) erased all but one point of a 62-46 deficit that came with 8:35 remaining. Minot junior wing McKale Duttenhefer's layup attempt with 30 seconds to play drew the bottom of the iron and fell into the hands of Bismarck senior guard Kenzie Kiefer. Kiefer calmly drilled a pair of double-bonus free throws, leaving the Majettes in a 69-66 hole with the ball and 21.4 on the clock. Duttenhefer had to force up a wild, contested shot that never had a chance. Bismarck's Keisha Engelhardt corralled the miss and drained two freebies 0.7 seconds before the buzzer to ice the win.
Minot High junior Brooke Suko goes up for a shot against Bismarck’s
Kenzie Kiefer on Thursday at Magic City Campus.
Minot fell to 0-4 this year in games decided by five points or less, leaving Majettes coach Todd Magnuson less than pleased with his team's late-game execution.
"A couple of the out of bounds plays that we set up, they were set up for certain people and we couldn't get into it," Magnuson said. "The girls just forgot what to run.
"That happens in a situation like this. Maybe part of that's my fault for not running those late-game situations more (in practice)."
Aside from those late offensive miscues - and a turnover with 2:10 left that allowed the Demons to hike their lead to 67-62 on a Kylee Leingang free throw - the Majettes owned the final 8:35.
Minot's shooters knocked down shots at will and slashers found space to penetrate the lane, which was a rarity in the first 29 minutes. The Demons turned to ice, finishing the game on a seven-minute field-goal drought. They missed some open looks and Minot sophomore center Cassie Askvig blocked a few of what they thought were open looks, while altering at least as many.
"We went straight man-to-man," Magnuson said. "We weren't moving in our zone very well like we did the other two nights (against St. Mary's and Turtle Mountain last week). The man-to-man got us back into the game. We also rebounded way better the second half than the first."
Minot outrebounded Bismarck 33-27 after finishing the first half minus-three in that department.
It was the five-minute letup that caused Minot's undoing. Following the 13:35 mark, the Majettes resorted to the play that put them in a 38-27 hole at halftime.
Bismarck churned out a 16-6 run to balloon its lead to 16. The Majettes turned the ball over five times in that span, including on back-to-back possessions to kick-start Bismarck's spurt.
"I liked where our defense was at at that point," Bismarck coach Dallas Hinderer said, "and I think that's where we got our lead was just playing solid defense."
Said Magnuson: "Bismarck took everything away from us that we wanted to do. They double-teamed, triple-teamed Cassie. We couldn't find the open girl because they rotated so well to the open people."
Askvig scored 20 points and hauled in nine boards, but was overshadowed by Engelhardt, who had game highs of 22 points and 13 rebounds.
Duttenhefer added 16 and senior guard Jayden Moum 11 for Minot. Bismarck's Courtney Trolliey and Kiefer also finished in double figures with 17 and 15, respectively.
Magnuson said he was proud of his team's ability to fight back, but that it can't dwell on the outcome. The Majettes travel to region foe Dickinson tonight.
"You know Dickinson's hungry for a win," he said. "We gotta go down there and shut them down. We gotta see how we respond after a loss like this tonight."
Ryan Holmgren covers Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.