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Offensive woes halt Velva GBB against No. 7 Thompson

Alex Eisen/MDN Velva junior guard Reagan Hildre (center) falls to the court while attempting to split a couple of Thompson defenders Saturday afternoon at the Minot Municipal Auditorium.

Buckled over with his hands on his knees, Velva girls basketball coach Chris Braaten was in disbelief as the Aggies missed a wide-open layup. Possible points couldn’t have come any easier.

The Velva Aggies (1-2) couldn’t buy a basket in stretches during Saturday afternoon’s Class B non-region affair against the No. 7-ranked Thompson Tommies (2-0).

The Aggies were held to only two points in the first quarter and then just three points in the third quarter before suffering a 52-25 neutral site defeat at the Minot Municipal Auditorium.

“We just have to make the shots that are there,” Braaten said. “We had good opportunities right under the basket. We just didn’t make them, be it layups or the 2-3-footers. For whatever reason, those have been a thorn in our side. We didn’t have much shooting from the outside either, so we have to have girls who are willing to pull the trigger. If they miss, so be it. Go get the next one.”

Thompson’s stout defense not only forced a plethora of missed shots but a bunch of turnovers as well.

“Defense is one of our pillars, defense and rebounding,” Thompson head coach Jason Brend said. “I thought we did a good job with our help defense. They’re aggressive and like to attack, so we did a good job of jumping on their attack and forcing them into some bad decisions — where we picked off the pass.”

Thompson senior guard Laren Cunningham made a layup at the buzzer to give the Tommies an 8-2 lead after the first eight minutes.

The Aggies got within a point at 10-9 and only trailed by five points at halftime, 16-11.

“Our defense is something we can hang our hat on,” Braaten said. “The second half, we struggled to get some stops in transition. We lost some girls. And compound that with a lack of offense, and they built a gap on us. Hard to overcome something like that.”

A corner 3-pointer by Thompson junior guard Mackenzie Hughes forced Velva into an early timeout, down 21-11 in the third quarter. A second timeout was called at 25-11.

Hughes finished with a team-high 15 points. Senior teammate Cayla Herbert also ended in double figures with 11 points.

Leading up to the final seconds of the quarter, Velva’s only point came from a free throw made by Rylee Frantsen. The Aggies missed seven free throws in the quarter — 8 of 17 for the game.

Freshman Olivia Passa made a close-range shot at the buzzer to convert Velva’s only field goal of the quarter. The Aggies now trailed 33-14.

“We were playing right into their style of basketball in the first half,” Brend said. “They like to go fast, and we were trying to play with them. (The game changed) as soon as we realized that we couldn’t do that. Our main adjustment at half was, ‘When their feet stop. Ours start.'”

Thompson used a 7-0 run to open the fourth quarter and cruised to a 52-25 victory.

Jade Lohnes (6 points) led the Aggies in scoring. Nine different Velva players scored in the contest.

“It’s hard to win when you only score 25 points against a team of that caliber,” Braaten said. “You got to put some points on the board. It was definitely a struggle for us.”

Velva returns to action Friday (Dec. 13) on the road against Underwood (2-0). The Aggies will host their first home game on Dec. 19 against Kenmare.

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

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