Coyotes claim crown

Grant County edges Killdeer in Class B state championship

Garrick Hodge/MDN Grant County's Camryn Alt, left, celebrates after winning the Class B girls basketball state championship Saturday at the MSU Dome in Minot.

Grant County loved to live dangerously in its first two Class B girls basketball state tournament games.

But after two nail biters, the Coyotes didn’t leave anything to chance Saturday.

Grant County outscored Killdeer 33-25 in the second half en route to winning its first state championship in school history, 53-44.

“It’s so hard to put this feeling into words,” Grant County senior forward Taylor Roehl said. “We’ve been playing together for so many years. We came to win this tournament this year. It feels so amazing to win it.”

Killdeer dominated the first quarter, taking an early 13-6 lead heading into the second. But the Cowboys went ice cold offensively, only making two of their next 16 shots.

Grant County's Taylor Roehl (33) puts up a shot during the Class B girls basketball state championship Saturday at the MSU Dome. Al Christianson/ Special to the MDN

“There were a lot of nerves early,” said Roehl, who was later named tournament MVP. “We knew it was our first opportunity to play in this game and there was a lot of pressure to do well. We knew this was a game we could win.”

The Coyotes (22-5) stormed back to take a 20-19 lead at halftime.

Killdeer (22-5) regained the advantage late in the third, but the Coyotes responded with a run of their own and gave themselves a 36-31 lead entering the final quarter.

Grant County never relinquished the lead in the fourth quarter, making clutch free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.

Roehl led the Coyotes with 18 points and nine rebounds on a 7 of 12 shooting effort. Grant County senior forward Alexis Bentz was the other Coyotes player in double figures, scoring 13. The Coyotes shot 37.7 percent from the floor, went 2-of-11 from beyond the arc and made 11 of 16 free throws. Grant County’s defensive awareness may have been the biggest asset of the night, as the Coyotes racked up 16 steals and forced 20 Killdeer turnovers.

“These girls have put in so much hard work and it’s finally paid off,” Grant County coach Nicole Bentz said. “They’ve been playing together since eighth grade. It’s extra special for me with my daughter being a senior. It’s the end of her high school career, but not her basketball career. I just can’t say enough about all my kids, how hard they work and what great kids they are to coach. You can’t ask for a better ending to a season.”

Trae Murray led Killdeer with 19 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double, while Sydney Andersen accomplished the same feat with 14 points and 12 rebounds. The Cowboys shot 33.3 percent from the floor, 3-of-16 from 3-point range and made 7 of 11 free throws. Killdeer won the rebounding advantage, 39-35.

Rugby wins seventh place game

The first two games at the Class B state tournament didn’t go as planned for the Rugby girls basketball team.

But the Panthers earned a bit of redemption Saturday, knocking off Watford City 64-44 in the seventh-place game at the MSU Dome.

“We just told the girls to go out and have fun, play the game the way it’s supposed to be played,” Rugby coach Jen Brossart said. “This is the team I’ve been coaching all year. It wasn’t quite the team we were watching in the first two games, but it was a great job for these seniors to close their careers on a great note.”

Anni Stier led Rugby with 16 points, while Madison Uhlenkamp (14), Karsyn Hager (13) and Maria Blessum (10) all finished in double figures. The Panthers shot 41.2 percent from the floor, 6-of-15 from beyond the arc and made 16 of 21 free throws.

Rugby finishes its season 23-4.

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