BISMARCK - The third time wasn't the charm, but by all accounts Minot High's third outcome against No. 4 Century indicated marked growth since Feb. 21 and Jan. 16.
The Majettes avoided the type of beatdowns the two-time defending state champions put on them during the regular season, instead dropping a 59-46 decision in the semifinals of the West Region tournament on Friday at the Bismarck Civic Center. Minot plays Mandan at 11 a.m. today with the winner advancing to next week's Class A state tournament.
"They believed they could win and I believed they could win today," Minot coach Todd Magnuson said. "I think Century's beatable, I really do. We just did not shoot the ball very well today."
Minot High junior point guard Sophie Bengson, guarded by Century’s Jen Benz, looks to pass out of a trap on Friday at the Bismarck Civic Center. Minot had four assists and 18 turnovers.
Sophomore forward Cassie Askvig, Minot High’s leading scorer, scored the Majettes’ first eight points, but none after that.
Third-seeded Minot (13-8) struggled to put the ball through the basket, shooting 38.5 percent from the field and 4-for-16 from 3-point land. But Century, the No. 2 seed, hardly faired better. The Patriots (19-2) finished with a 39.6-percent shooting clip, but made 7 of 16 treys.
They also got off nine more shots, thanks to a dominating effort on the glass.
"Defensively, I thought we did very well," Magnuson said. "What hurt us was our rebounding. It was 40-22 by the stats and that was huge."
Century pulled down 15 offensive boards and outscored Minot 8-4 in second-chance points.
"When you get almost half your rebounds as offensive rebounds, you're getting scores out of those," Magnuson said. "That hurts."
Still, Minot found a way to remain within striking distance for nearly all 36 minutes. But the Majettes never led, always playing catch-up.
Century scored the first six points before Minot sophomore forward Cassie Askvig buried back-to-back treys to tie it. Century's Macy Lynch answered with a trio of triples to give the hometown squad a bit of breathing room at 15-6.
The Majettes closed to within three on two occasions and trailed 22-18 until Century's Jordyn Jossart drained a 3-pointer from the left wing 25 seconds before halftime that sent the Patriots to the locker room with a seven-point buffer.
Minot played the final 5:28 of the half without Askvig, who was whistled for her second foul. Askvig tallied the Majettes' first eight points, but never scored again.
"The first half, the pace of the game was in favor of them," Century coach Ron Metz said. "It was bring it down the floor, set up defensively. It was kind of their pace."
Century shot out of a cannon after the break, putting up 14 of the first 19 points in the second half to bulge its lead to 39-24. Minot never trimmed the deficit to single digits, but it didn't fold either. With 6:21 remaining, Minot senior guard Jayden Moum drilled a 3 from the right wing to cap a 7-0 run over just 42 seconds.
That brought the deficit down to 48-36. Minot trailed by just 11 when Magnuson pulled his starters with 2:14 to play.
"Tomorrow will be a big one," Minot junior wing Sierra Duttenhefer said. "Save our legs for that."
Century held Askvig and junior McKale Duttenhefer, the Majettes' two leading scorers, scoreless over the final 31:45. Duttenhefer never scored.
"She couldn't get anything off," Magnuson said. "They took two of our big shooters away from us."
Moum poured in a team-high 12 points for Minot, which had four assists and 18 turnovers.
Jossart and Lynch led Century with 16 and 14 points, respectively.
The Majettes swept the regular-season series with Mandan (11-10), winning the two contests by a combined 14 points. A third win would put Minot back in the big dance after a one-year hiatus.
"We just can't take anything lighty," Sierra Duttenhefer said. "Granted we beat them twice, but they'll be coming just as hard because we're both going for that state (berth)."
Ryan Holmgren covers Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.