Bentz’ last-second shots lifts Grant County

Al Christianson/Special to the MDN  Grant County's Molly Wetzel (11) and Kindred's Victoria Braaten (21) fight for a loose ball Thursday at the Class B state girls basketball tournament at the MSU Dome

There will be a new Class B girls basketball state champion this year.

The Grant County girls basketball team can thank senior forward Alexis Bentz for that.

Moments after Kindred’s Kristina Freier hit a 3-pointer to erase a 17-point deficit and tie the game at 57 apiece, Bentz lifted a long range shot at the buzzer. The 5-foot-10 scorer could only hear the deafening roars of her fan base and teammates as the shot found its mark.

No. 5 Grant County knocked off No. 4 Kindred 60-57 Thursday in the state tournament quarterfinals at the MSU Dome, ending the Vikings’ dreams of repeating.

“I just got open and as Taylor (Roehl) passed me the ball, I just shot it,” Bentz said. “I was thinking, ‘If it didn’t go in, we’ll just go into overtime.’ But as soon as I let it go, I felt great about it. All of a sudden, everyone was crashing into me and it was just an awesome feeling. I can’t even describe it right now.”

Grant County advances to play Medina/Pingree-Buchanan at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the state semifinals, while Kindred faces Watford City in a consolation game at 2:45 p.m.

“That’s what you want from your kids, to step up in big moments at the end,” Grant County coach Nicole Bentz said. “This is a great group of girls. They play with such heart and determination. This is just one step, we’ll have another big step (against Medina).”

The Coyotes led 39-25 at halftime and scored the first two points of the second half, but Kindred answered with a 14-0 run and reduced the deficit to 41-39.

“It was a game of runs,” Nicole Bentz said. “We knew they were going to come back at us. They don’t have the record they do for no reason. They just kept battling.”

The Vikings came back largely due to the effort of eighth grader Abigail Duchscherer. Duchscherer had a game-high 25 points and grabbed six rebounds for Kindred. The Vikings also capitalized with 23 points from 22 Grant County turnovers. But the Coyotes eventually survived the storm.

“Our team is full of seniors,” Alexis Bentz said. “That really led us through the adversity. We knew not to panic and we’d end up with a win.”

Bentz led the Coyotes with 15 points and 13 rebounds for a double-double, while Roehl also notched a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Grant County had a 46-32 advantage on the glass and shot 40 percent from the floor.

Garrick Hodge covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @Garrick_Hodge