Thompson handles Aggies’ press, quickness in 53-32 win

Alex Eisen/MDN Thompson's Allie Ivesdal (3) dribbles the basketball while being guarded by Velva's Hope Brewer (24) Saturday in the Shootout on the Prairie invitational at the Minot Municipal Auditorium. 

The fatigue of running the full-court press caught up with the Velva girls basketball team in the fourth quarter Saturday against Thompson in the Shootout on the Prairie invitational at the Minot Municipal Auditorium.

The Aggies (1-2) were outscored 18-4 in the final eight minutes and stumbled to a 53-32 defeat.

“Defensively, we kind of got flat-footed and they kept going hard,” Velva coach Chris Braaten said. “They have maybe a little more depth than we do at this point in time. They could just keep going and going, and maybe we ran out of gas a little… Playing on a big floor like this, it’s an adjustment. When we play full-court defense the way we do, sometimes it takes a toll on the body and mentally as well.”

Velva jumped out to an early 10-4 lead after senior Greta Florence put back a missed layup attempt, but the Tommies responded with seven straight points to hold a 11-10 lead after the opening quarter.

“They bring a lot of pressure across the entire floor,” Thompson coach Jason Brend said. “I think early on, they forced us into playing their game. We tried to play fast with them and then we realized that once we slowed down in our heads, play in a half-court set, that we were going to create more opportunities for ourselves.”

The Tommies (2-0) used a 12-0 run in the second quarter to build a six-point lead at halftime, 24-18. All six baskets in the run came near the rim on layups or post moves.

In the first half, taking out the free throws, a midrange jumper made by senior Sydney Larson for Velva’s first points and a 3-pointer by Thompson’s Kaia Sorby were the only points scored from outside of the paint.

That trend was broken at the start of the third quarter with Florence and Thompson’s Mackenzie Hughes trading 3-pointers. A made free throw by Florence had the score tied at 27-27 with 3:34 left in the third.

Florence had a team-high 10 points, followed by junior Rachel Mack and sophomore Kaitlyn Lund with six points each for the Aggies.

“We were able to go up against a pretty darn good team and the girls competed,” Braaten said. “We got some good looks. In the first half, a few shots didn’t fall. But, I’m really happy with the progress. We have a younger team this year and just trying to see who fits into those roles to help us moving forward.”

Sorby extended the Tommies lead back out to six points on a three-point play and a 3-pointer, 33-27. A Hughes uncontested layup put Thompson up 35-28 going into the fourth quarter.

Hughes finished with a match-high 15 points with Sorby right behind her with 14 points. The pair scored 10 of Thompson’s 18 points in the fourth.

“That was a lot faster tempo than we typically play back home,” Brend said. “But, you got to give them credit. They practice it and do a great job with it. It really threw us for a curveball for the first two thirds of the game. Luckily, we came around and made some adjustments at the end there that helped us.”

The Tommies pulled away for the 53-32 win with a 16-2 run to end the contest.

“It was definitely their defense,” Braaten said. “They have a stout group. They work hard, are physical and have some quickness out there. They are going to be one of the top teams in the state this year going forward. I’m happy with the way we played against them.”

Velva returns to action next week by taking part in the Sawyer Tournament.

Alex Eisen covers Minot High School, Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.