Taking the title
MLS defeats DLB, wins District 12 championship
If there was any doubt heading into Saturday, that’s over now.
After running through its competition in the regular season, the No. 1-seeded Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood girls basketball team officially cemented its title Saturday as the top team in District 12 with a 38-31 victory over No. 2 Des Lacs-Burlington in the championship game.
The win fulfills a season-long mission for a team that fell just short of the title last season with a loss in the championship game. This time, the Mavericks had no intentions of walking away empty handed.
“It’s kind of surreal,” MLS junior Leah Feland said. “Last year we didn’t really come to play, but we didn’t want to do that again this year. We wanted to really prepare, come out strong and get the win this time.”
MLS did just that in the opening quarter as the Mavericks delivered the first body blow of the match. Feland set the tone by blocking a shot from DLB’s Sara Bonn, saving it before it bounced out of bounds and hustling back on offense to ultimately lay it in and give her team a 9-2 edge with 2:25 on the clock.
Now up 11-4, MLS piled it on in the second quarter by kicking things off with a 9-0 run this time around. Eight-grader Allison Undlin helped lead the way. After scoring four points in the first quarter, the 6-foot-1 center showed off her range with a jumper from 15 feet away during the run.
“I try to just work on my game everywhere on the court,” Undlin said. “I want to be able to shoot from everywhere.”
Everything seemed to go right for the Mavericks as they kept their foot on the gas and entered halftime with a comfortable 23-11 lead.
“I thought we came out and had a lot of energy to begin with,” MLS head coach Wayne Brackenbury said. “I thought were a little bit (rushed) early – actually, most of the night – but we hit some shots early that gave us that lead and got us some confidence.”
Despite having a double-digit lead, MLS didn’t let up defensively in the third quarter. Instead, the Mavericks held DLB to just one field goal.
Every MLS player did its job by communication, contesting shots and secured boards as the Mavericks went into the fourth quarter with a 29-14 edge.
“I think we worked really hard,” MLS freshman Kylie Abernathey said. “We just worked as a team and had good energy the whole game.”
But this time it was DLB who kicked off the quarter with a strong start.
The Lakers opened up the final frame with an 8-0 run that was capped off by an and-one layup courtesy of senior Kyley Lauf. Despite missing the free throw, the bucket still drew the Lakers to within seven points, 29-22, with 4:35 left to play.
Foul trouble proved to be DLB’s downfall down the stretch, though, as the Lakers got MLS into one-and-one territory midway through the quarter. Feland made them pay, going 7-for-9 down the stretch to help her team secure the 38-31 win and the title.
Lauf finished with a team-high nine points for the Lakers, while sophomores Ava Wille and Brynley Benno each had eight points.
Despite the loss, DLB will live to see another day. The Lakers will try to build off the strong fourth quarter as they now prepare for a battle with TGU on Feb. 18 in the opening round of the Region 6 Tournament.
“It’s disappointing to be in a position your school hasn’t been in for a long time and not come away with a win,” DLB head coach Tracy Bonn said. “But to watch my girls get down, struggle and still fight is empowering for them. It just shows us that we can do it moving forward.”
Feland led MLS with 17 points, and Undlin scored eight points. The Mavericks will enter the region tournament as District 12 champions, where they’ll take on Westhope/Newburg in the opening round.
For MLS, the team plans to take things one game at a time.
“First thing we have to take care of is that first-round game,” Brackenbury said. “Win the first game and you get two more no matter what. The the key is to look at it as just extending your season a little longer and a little longer. That’s what we’re focused on.”
Justin Martinez covers Minot High School and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JTheSportsDude.