Lakers escape Berthold

Alex Eisen/MDN Lakers freshman Brooklyn Benno takes a jump shot against the Bombers on Monday in Berthold.

BERTHOLD — In a clash for the top spot in the District 12 girls basketball standings, the No. 10-ranked Des Lacs-Burlington Lakers (10-1) weren’t quite as invincible as they thought.

But, in the final minute, the Lakers managed to edge away from the Lewis & Clark-Berthold Bombers, 43-40, to nab their eighth straight victory on Monday in Berthold.

This was the second time this season that the Lakers have faced the Bombers, and it proved to be a much more interesting sequel compared to the Lakers’ 70-37 rout during the Sawyer Invite on Dec. 5.

DLB’s only loss this season remains a 41-38 defeat to Velva two days later (Dec. 7) at the Sawyer Invite.

“We talked about that before the game because that has bitten us in year’s past,” DLB coach Tracy Bonn said about taking a win for granted. “I don’t feel like that’s what happened, but I don’t know. You just got to give it Berthold. They came out and played really, really well. They shot really well.”

Alex Eisen/MDN Lewis & Clark-Berthold sophomore Hannah Ibach (24) passes the ball to junior teammate Abby Simons in a District 12 girls basketball game played Monday in Berthold.

The Bombers (8-4) rolled into Monday’s marquee matchup with a three-game winning streak and had won seven out their last eight games. A few more made shots or fewer turnovers and they would have kept their winning ways alive.

“Turnovers and mental toughness. They got us frazzled at the end of the game and we didn’t go through our offense,” LCB coach Kayla Lambrecht said. “I feel like defensively we played a pretty good game and we shut down their big scorers. It was just executing on offense and when it mattered, we weren’t able to do that and we kind of lost our heads.”

A low-scoring first quarter went the Bombers’ way after sophomore Toni Hamilton converted a basket inside for a 10-8 LCB lead through the opening frame.

Hamilton scored the first basket of the second quarter as well on a put back two minutes into the quarter.

Junior teammate Abby Simons followed that up with the first 3-pointer of the game and another make inside to force the Lakers into a timeout down 17-8.

DLB senior Caitlyn Vogel then took matters into her own hands. She scored nine of the Lakers’ 12 second-quarter points to even the score at 19-19. Vogel finished with a game-high 18 points, and didn’t even score in the fourth quarter.

“It just clicked in my head and I knew I had to go,” Vogel said. “If I started to get going, then the rest of the team would follow… I think we came in with the mentality that we were just going to win and we didn’t really get mentally focused to beat them.”

Abby and Grace Simmons each scored again to restore the Bombers’ lead going into halftime, 23-20. Quite the contrast in score to what happened a month ago.

“We watched a little game tape from the first time we played them, and I don’t know what we were playing,” Lambrecht said. “We knew we had to play better and have patience with our offense. Try to have fewer turnovers this time compared to the first time. I feel like we did that. When we ran our offense, we executed. It just was not enough.”

The Lakers scored the first six points of the third quarter. The Bombers then bounced back with six straight points of their own.

Vogel had the Lakers up three upon completing an and-one opportunity, 32-29. But, the Bombers scored the final seven points of the third quarter, including a 3-pointer by Abby Simons in the final seconds, to take a 36-32 lead into the fourth.

Simons had a team-high 12 points, but went down with an ankle injury with 2:33 remaining and didn’t return. While she was helped off the court without being able to put any weight on it, Simons was walking around under her own power after the game had finished.

“I think she will be OK,” Lambrecht said. “She might have twisted her ankle, and having her come out takes out one of our scorers. So, it was hard, but I think she’ll be back sooner than later.”

DLB freshman Brynley Benno quickly recovered after air balling a free throw to make the next one to tie the game at 38-38.

Brooklyn Benno scored all nine of her points in the second half.

Bombers junior Corina Pabian and Lakers junior Kyley Lauf traded jumpers, 40-40, with 30 seconds left. A turnover by the Bombers sent Lauf on full-court dribble drive to the basket where she drew a foul.

Lauf calmly sank the first free throw. Then, while releasing her second attempt, a Bomber fan shouted “miss” that drew a gasp from the rest of the crowd for the unsportsmanlike behavior.

Lauf did miss, but karma had other ideas. The Lakers came up with the offensive rebound.

“It’s definitely a situation I never had to be in before,” Lauf said, who finished with four points. “I do think it was not right at all for him to do it, but people do things and people are people. So, keep moving on.”

DLB sophomore Sara Bonn dropped in two more free throws without the crowd interrupting, which left the Bombers with a half-court heave by Hamilton to tie the game. It fell a few feet short of the rim.

“We got a wake-up call that we aren’t unbeatable,” Lauf said. “We still need to work for our wins.”

Both teams are back in action at 7:15 p.m. Thursday. The Lakers will host Surrey, while the Bombers travel into Minot to face Bishop Ryan.

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