Nelson to the rescue
A broken play had senior Minot High forward Brenna Tschetter trapped in the corner with the clock winding down. When all looked lost, Tschetter found the Majettes last lifeline with sophomore Allie Nelson standing all by herself at the top of the arc.
Before the ball had even left Nelson’s fingertips, the players on the Minot High bench were already on their feet in anticipation.
“I just knew it was the last chance we had to get back into it,” Nelson said. “We had fought so hard all night and I just didn’t want it to end there.”
The ball caught nothing but net, sent the Majettes faithful into a frenzy Friday evening and pushed the West Region contest with Bismarck High into overtime, 59-59, at Minot High School. The Majettes (3-5, 3-3 WDA) used the momentum of the game-tying 3-pointer to knock off the Demons (6-4, 4-3 WDA) in the extra 4-minute session, 67-62.
“For these kids to win a big, big game – and this was it – that shot is up there with any that I have seen,” MHS coach Bernie Wasser said. “This is huge. Mainly for confidence. Where the kids don’t have to talk about it anymore because they did it. Talk is one thing, but they actually got it done this time.”
A fast pace, up-and-down first half featured a handful of contested shots. Many of the shots came short of the mark and the Majettes hung with the senior-less Demons for the first 10 minutes or so. Even effectively breaking Bismarck’s full-court press, a problem that has plagued them throughout the season.
Minot led at 11-9 before Bismarck’s season leading scorers Cadee Ryckman and Mady Mosolf started hitting their attempts and helped spark a 9-0 Demons run. Both Ryckman and Mosof contributed 12 points.
Two baskets by Bismarck’s Olivia Dickerson had the Demons’ advantage into double-digits at 26-15. Minot was only able to salvage a three-pointer by sophomore Becca Tschetter the rest of the first half, while Bismarck closed out the opening half with a 7-0 run to hold a 15-point halftime lead, 33-18.
“Our goal was to win the second half, which we did,” Wasser said. “They came out with a vengeance. They stayed within what we were doing and nobody tried to do it themselves. As far as a team effort, this is the best I have seen in a long, long time.”
The Majettes launched their comeback attempt down 51-36 with around 10 minutes ago, about the same mark in the first half when the Demons took over the game.
A glance at the scoreboard with under four minutes to go and Minot was already within four points at 52-48. During that stretch, Paige Rosencrans had a pair of consecutive steals leading to fast break layups and Alli McCoy was making shots as well.
But, the catalyst of the rally was a dominant defensive effort that kept making stand after stand.
“I think we wore them down,” Wasser said. “Once we got it close and tight, our girls just responded and continued to stay within what we were trying to get them to do. I think our defense took them out of a lot of things that they were expecting to do. It was defense and sharing the ball. Our passing was also as good as I’ve seen in a long time, from our post players to our guards. It didn’t matter.”
With 1:28 remaining in regulation, McCoy wasn’t going to be denied on a dribble drive. She made the layup, was fouled and hit the and-one free throw to give the Majettes a 56-55 lead.
Ryckman sunk a pair of free throws to restore the Demons’ lead, 57-56, and the Majettes turned the ball over on their next possession and were forced to intentionally foul.
Bismarck’s Maddy Steckler made two more pressure-filled free throws for her only points of the game to give the Demons a 59-56 lead with 20.9 seconds remaining.
Then came the heroics by Nelson, who lead the Majettes with a team-high 17 points, as she drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime at 59-59. Steckler arrived late on the help-side defense and couldn’t influence the clutch shot.
It wasn’t exactly how Wasser drew up the play, but it worked nonetheless.
“I was wanting to just get the shot off,” Wasser said. “We had a play set for the three and it broke down. A lot of that had to do with Bismarck’s defense. We were expecting our guard to come off a double, staggered screen and it broke down. I’m thankful it landed in her hands.
“It touched three other players and it was Brenna (Tschetter) that threw it. (Tschetter) had dribbled it out and was going to take the three, but realized she didn’t have a good look. But, they had a sense of how much time was left to still be able to make an extra pass and there was Allie (Nelson) sitting at the top. She is a good shooter and that was it. Once that went in, we were in it to win from there.”
Pumped up on adrenaline, the Majettes held the Demons nearly scoreless in the extra frame. Becca Tschetter had five of the Majettes’ eight overtime points. Rosencrans (made field goal) and Becca’s older sister Brenna Tschetter (made free throw) had the other three points.
The Demons only tallied a last-ditch 3-pointer by Megan Henderson, who finished with a team-high 14 points for Bismarck.
The Majettes had four players reach double figures in scoring, led by Allie Nelson (17) with Becca Tschetter (15), Rosencrans (13) and McCoy (10) close behind.
Minot has exceeded its win total from last season (2-22) with its third victory in eight games this season.
“Never quit fighting and none of us did,” Allie Nelson said. “We believed the whole time and never gave up. This was huge. We are so excited. It feels really good.”
The Majettes remain at home to host Turtle Mountain Community High School at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Alex Eisen covers Minot High School, Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.
Minot High 67,
Bismarck High 62 (OT)
M 18 41 8 – 67
B 33 26 3 – 62
M (67): Allie Nelson 17, Becca Tschetter 15, Paige Rosencrans 13, Alli McCoy 10, Brenna Tschetter 5, Brooke Nelson 4, Gwen Mathews 2.
B (62): Megan Henderson 14, Mady Mosolf 12, Cadee Ryckman 12, MaKensie Maher 8, Hannah Golus 5, Dani Korsmo 5, Olivia Dickerson 4, Maddy Steckler 2.