All for one

MLS tops Berthold, advances to district championship

Al Christianson/Special to the MDN MLS eighth-grader Allison Undlin (23) rises up for a shot over Berthold’s Toni Hamilton (right) during the Mavericks’ 54-42 win Friday in the semifinals of the District 12 girls basketball tournament at the Minot Municipal Auditorium.

Everyone does their job on the Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood girls basketball team.

The No. 1-seeded Mavericks showed why they’re the top team in the district on Friday as they used a total team effort to defuse the No. 5-seeded Lewis & Clark-Berthold Bombers, 54-42. With the win, MLS clinches its spot in the Region 6 Tournament and advances to the District 12 championship.

“We’re successful when we’re balanced,” MLS head coach Wayne Brackenbury said. “We had balanced scoring across the board. Everybody chipped in, and everybody contributed. That’s what we needed.”

Berthold came out with an edge in the opening quarter as junior Toni Hamilton tipped in a missed shot for the first points of the game and senior Abby Simons nailed a three-pointer a few possessions later to give the Bombers a quick 5-2 lead.

The exclamation point came in the closing seconds of the quarter when Simons found junior Sara Birdsall down low for an easy layup at the buzzer to give Berthold an 11-8 lead at the break.

The two teams exchanged jabs in the second quarter as they battled to a 17-point stalemate with one minute left on the clock.

That’s when Kylie Abernathey sent the Mavericks into halftime with some momentum. After missing Thursday’s game against South Prairie due to flu-like symptoms, the freshman delivered with a converted and-one layup and a bucket down low on the next play to give MLS a hard-earned 22-17 lead at the midway point.

“I thought we came out a little sluggish,” Brackenbury said. “But, as the game went on, our gitty up got better. Credit to (Berthold), though. They played a heck of a ballgame and made life miserable for us.”

After scoring five points in the first half, MLS’s Leah Feland made her presence known in the third quarter. With the two teams deadlocked at 22 apiece, the junior gave her team the lead in style with and and-one layup and sank the free throw as well.

Feland went on to score six points in the quarter, but perhaps her biggest contribution came on the other end. The junior had the task of guarding Simons, who recently signed a letter of intent to play college ball with Dakota College at Bottineau.

Feland accepted the challenge and held Simons to just one three-pointer in the quarter as MLS extended its lead to 36-28 entering the final frame.

“It’s really fun and challenging to be able to defend players as good as (Simons),” Feland said. “It makes you work hard, shows you what you’re made of and gives you that gut check.”

Allison Undlin helped put the finishing touches on the game for the Mavericks. Berthold had no answer for the 6-foot-1 eight-grader as she snagged a number of offensive boards and scored another four points in the fourth quarter.

Simons broke loose in the final frame and scored 10 points, but time ran out on the one-woman wrecking crew. MLS secured the 54-42 win.

Simons finished with a game-high 20 points in the loss. Three different MLS players reached double-digit points in the win: Feland (16), Abernathey (15) and Undlin (14).

Berthold will take on No. 6 Our Redeemer’s today at 5:30 p.m. in a loser-out match with a trip to the Region 6 tournament up for grabs.

Meanwhile, the Mavericks now shift their focus to today’s championship match against No. 2 Des Lacs-Burlington at 7 p.m. The showdown holds some extra significance for an MLS team that fell short in last year’s district championship game against Bishop Ryan, 41-28.

“I’m so excited,” Feland said. “We got there last year and we didn’t really come to play, so we’re really looking forward to getting back out there (against DLB).”

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