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Velva GBB brings balance, beats Westhope/Newburg 44-31

Jimmy Lafakis/MDN Velva senior forward Kaitlyn Lund celebrates after a basket in the third quarter of Friday’s District 11 semifinal against Westhope/Newburg. The Aggies seized a 44-31 victory over the Sioux at Nedrose.

Although a young bunch of players comprise the Velva girls basketball team, the Aggies displayed maturity in Friday’s second District 11 Tournament semifinal game.

No. 2-seeded Velva (11-10) fired on all cylinders in its 44-31 win over No. 3-seeded Westhope/Newburg (11-10) on Friday night at Nedrose High School.

Stout defense and a diverse offensive attack helped Velva capture the victory.

“We’ve had a really tough schedule this year,” Velva head coach Chris Braaten said. “We’ve played seven of the top 10 teams in the state. Our record may not be shiny, but it’s battle-worn. The girls have really embraced the opportunity to play against some of those teams. They’ve learned a lot throughout the season.”

The Aggies used a methodical approach in the first half. Baskets came at a premium early on, but Velva gained a 26-14 advantage at halftime.

That stifling defense held the Sioux to just one point in the third quarter. With a 20-point lead in hand, the Aggies continued to dictate the tempo.

“We didn’t get rattled,” Braaten said. “We took care of the ball. I thought we passed it very well, and the spacing was good on offense. Offense is spacing, and spacing is offense. We can keep finding those girls when they’re open and take what they give us. We were able to capitalize on that, so that was really nice to see. You want to see that type of play at this time of the year.”

When Westhope/Newburg shifted to a press, Velva junior Madison Effertz kept calm. Effertz provided stability to the Aggies’ attack and finished with 4 points.

“Breaking their press was really key,” she said. “Once that happened, we got a few points off of it. That’s when the other team gets more flustered. Then, we can get momentum off of it.”

The Sioux showed some fight toward the end of the game, but Velva’s lead proved insurmountable.

“Punching the ticket of going to the regionals and knowing that we’re going to play another week is really nice,” Braaten said.

Seven Aggies finished in the scoring column. Velva freshman Olivia Passa contributed a team-high 11 points.

Westhope/Newburg freshman Ellie Braaten scored a game-high 19 points.

“Everybody was just a little tight to start the game,” Westhope/Newburg head coach Bob Beaudrie said. “We never got out of that tightness until the fourth quarter. Then, it was kind of out of hand before we loosened up a little bit. They can learn from that.”

The Sioux will square off against No. 4-seeded Towner/Granville/Upham at 5:30 p.m. this evening in the second regional qualifier. Velva will tangle with No. 1-seeded Rugby in the 7 p.m. championship game.

Back on Jan. 30, the Panthers earned a narrow 45-40 victory over the Aggies in Rugby.

“We’ve just progressed a lot throughout the season,” Effertz said. “What we did earlier and what people might think we’re like, (but) we’re a lot different now. They should be worried, a little bit.”

Jimmy Lafakis covers Minot High School sports and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JJLII30.

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