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Heading in the right direction

Majettes basketball falls a shot short against St. Mary’s, 56-54

Alex Eisen/MDN Bismarck St. Mary's junior center Maria Mann (33) posts up MHS junior Allie Nelson (2) Thursday evening in a West Region girls basketball game in Minot. Mann made the game-winning shot with 18.6 seconds remaining.

Bouncing off Becca Tschetter’s head and into the waiting arms of Allie Nelson for a layup, it looked like the pinked out Majettes had luck on their side.

The fortunate deflection had the Minot High School girls basketball team leading, 52-51, with 2:22 remaining against Bismarck St. Mary’s Thursday evening in Minot. But, less than a minute later, Tschetter fouled out. Then, Maria Mann made a turnaround layup in the post with 18.6 seconds.

Minot High (3-12, 3-11 WDA) had a chance at the buzzer to snap its seven-game losing streak on Pink Night for breast cancer awareness, but its last-ditch attempt came up short. The Majettes’ magic had run out, and St. Mary’s (9-7, 9-6 WDA) avoided being upset, 56-54.

“So close, I feel for the girls because they played their hearts out tonight,” MHS head coach Bernie Wasser said. “They took care of the ball and did some great things. Down the stretch, we just couldn’t get the stop we needed and we couldn’t get the bucket that we needed. But, we took some big steps tonight.”

The Majettes came into Thursday’s contest scoring 43.8 points per conference game with 34 percent shooting from the floor — both ranked last in the West Region. Yet, they certainly gave the Saints everything they could handle. Minot High lost 58-44 at Bismarck St. Mary’s on Dec. 11.

“We were in high spirits,” said Nelson, who came into the contest averaging a team-high 12.7 points per conference game. “We knew we had a chance by the way we played them in St. Mary’s. We were hopeful going into the game. I think we played really well and are still hopeful going out.”

St. Mary’s held a small cushion throughout the first half with junior guard Abigail Kopp making a handful of key jumpers. Kopp scored 11 of her 15 points in the first half.

But, Minot High never allowed the Saints to stretch out their lead to double-digits in the first half. MHS relied on an effective 2-3 zone at times to keep the game low scoring.

Becca Tschetter, Paige Rosencrans and Landry Maragos all hit 3-pointers at different points to prevent the Saints from streaking away. Nelson also had four straight points in the middle half, which cut St. Mary’s lead down to three points, 19-16.

The Saints led by six points at halftime, 29-23.

The deficit eventually reached double figures early in the second half, 35-25, as the Saints were getting out in transition for some easy buckets.

But, the Majettes wouldn’t go away. A dominating post move by 6-foot freshman Elsie Hardy had MHS back within a point, 37-36. Hardy and fellow freshman Mariah Evenson played critical minutes despite not seeing a lot of varsity action so far in their high school careers — just a few minutes each over the last couple of games.

“We knew we were playing the best rebounding team in the conference, even ahead of (Bismarck) Century, so we needed some size,” Wasser said. “Bring those two in helped us… It takes nothing away from our older kids. Those two girls have been working hard just like everybody else. And there are some nights we may not use them. Tonight was a night where there wasn’t a freshman or a sophomore game. So, we had the availability to use them.”

A 3-pointer by Tschetter had the score tied at 39-39. The score would be deadlocked four more times at 41, 50, 52 and 54.

The head assist by Tschetter to Nelson felt like the turning point with a little over two minutes to play.

“We laughed about that one,” Wasser said. “Sometimes you got to find the humor in some things. So, I said, ‘That’s the way to use your head.'”

Faced with a one-and-one tied at 52, MHS junior Lauren McLean got a favorable bounce off the front rim to make the first attempt and got nothing but net on the second free throw to give the Majettes another lead, 54-52. Doing so with starting guard Tschetter sitting on the bench with five fouls.

After Marriann Senftner tied the game again, the Saints went to Mann working in the post on their final possession of the game. Mann twisted Nelson around and rose up for a contested turnaround in the paint. It found the bottom of the net with 18.6 seconds to go.

The Majettes got caught inbounding from the corner with 1.6 seconds left, leaving Wasser not a lot of options to draw up a solid winning play.

“We were going to have (Rosencrans) set a screen for Allie Nelson and then have (Rosencrans) come off a double screen over the top,” Wasser said. “We knew it was going to get crowded inside. With only 1.6 seconds left, we knew we only had time for a catch and maybe one dribble and then it has to go up. They forced us further out than what we wanted. And it was kind of in a tough spot down in that corner. There wasn’t any room.”

Rosencrans couldn’t break free to launch a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Instead, Nelson retrieved the inbounds pass with her back to the basket, turned around behind the three-point line and released. It was well short.

“They defended it well and it kind of broke down,” said Nelson, who finished with a team-high 20 points.

Hallie Schweitzer also finished with a game-high 20 points for St. Mary’s. Tschetter picked up 10 points for the Majettes.

Coming up, the Majettes have four more games in a row at home this season in the midst of this five-game home stand, followed by two road games at Dickinson and Bismarck Century to close out the regular season.

Turtle Mountain Community High School comes to Minot first on Monday to make up the game that was postponed on Jan. 29. All of Minot High’s remaining home games are scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.

Alex Eisen covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.

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