Passa leads Aggies to 60-32 win over Stanley

Photo submitted by Al Christianson Velva junior Emma Passa takes it to the rim during the Aggies’ game against Stanley Saturday at the Minot Municipal Auditorium.

Welcome to Velva, Emma Passa.

In her third game since switching schools from Bishop Ryan to Velva, the junior guard showed everyone that there’s a new top dog in District 11. Passa put on a scoring clinic, tallying 30 points in the Aggies’ commanding 60-32 win over Stanley on Saturday at the Minot Municipal Auditorium.

“I thought we played a full four quarters,” Velva head coach Chris Braaten said. “(Passa) is so quick, she has length and she’s strong. She’s able to give us a lot of offense like tonight.”

Velva (3-0) wasted no time building a lead in the opening quarter, jumping out to a 12-0 advantage in the first three minutes. Passa led the charge, recording seven of those points.

Meanwhile, the Aggies also made life difficult on the defensive end. Velva forced four turnovers in the first quarter and allowed just nine points. At the end of quarter, Velva held a 23-9 lead. Passa had 15 points.

“We just came ready to play as a team,” Passa said. “We were really focused, my teammates gave me some great passes and I was able to make my shots.”

Passa kept rolling in the second quarter, racking up the team’s first seven points. But Stanley managed to keep pace with the Aggies this time by turning to junior Taylor Dean, who added four points to her total after recording five points in the first quarter.

Still, Velva managed to outscore the Blue Jays thanks to a late pair of layups from senior Rachel Mack, giving her team a 35-17 lead at halftime.

Passa cooled off in the third quarter, making just one of her seven shot attempts. Despite this, the Aggies maintained their cushiony lead by playing lockdown defense. Velva only allowed eight points, preserving a 47-25 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

“We’ve always prided ourselves in playing good defense,” Braaten said. “There’s going to be nights when the ball just doesn’t fall, but it’s important to be stout on defense so the game doesn’t get away from you. I thought we really held our ground defensively tonight.”

Velva went into cruise control in the fourth quarter, securing a 60-32 victory.

Mack proved to be the Aggies’ second leading scorer behind Passa’s 30 points, recording seven points to go along with a block. Stanley’s Dean recorded a team-high 17 points.

Despite the dominant win, the Aggies know there’s still room to improve, particularly at the free throw line. Velva shot just 8-for-20 as a team from the charity stripe.

“These early games have been showing us what we need to work on to get to where we want to be,” Passa said. “We’re still learning and getting better.”

With a trio of wins already under its belt, Velva will look to carry its momentum into the Nedrose Girls Invitational from Dec. 4-8.

“We’re just building our confidence every time we play together,” Braaten said. “We’re going to keep growing as we get our feet wet this season.”

Justin Martinez covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JTheSportsDude.