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Rugby overwhelms DLB in regionals 56-26

Robert Brewer/MDN Rugby senior guard Sarah Blessum (11) looks to finish a transition opportunity for the Panthers in the first quarter of Monday's regional tournament game against Des-Lacs Burlington. She finished with a game-high 20 points.

The Rugby Panthers (13-8) of District 11 won their fourth straight game on Monday as they defeated Des-Lacs Burlington (11-9) by a final score of 56-26 at the Region 6 Tournament at the Minot Auditorium.

Coming into the game, Des-Lacs Burlington faced an uphill battle without two of its top players. Junior forward Krysta Berard and junior center Emily DeGree were not in the lineup due to injury.

Right from the outset, Rugby applied heavy pressure on DLB ballhandlers, forcing turnovers and creating opportunities in transition. The Panthers also asserted themselves on the boards, collecting several offensive rebounds to extend possessions in the half court.

Rugby jumped out to a 9-0 run to start the first quarter and ended the period with a 16-6 advantage. With 5:32 to go before halftime, a Sarah Blessum layup, followed by a Rugby steal which led to a basket from Mykell Heidlebaugh extended the Panthers lead to 24-8. Rugby would outscore DLB 9-2 for the remainder of the quarter and took a commanding 33-10 lead into the locker room.

Rugby continued its dominance in the third as a three-pointer from Blessum extended the Panther advantage to 45-14 with less than four minutes to go in the quarter. Heading into the final period, Rugby enjoyed a sizeable 49-17 lead.

By game’s end, it was Rugby who clinched a berth in the region semifinals in a double-digit triumph. Blessum led all scorers with 20 points, and Heidlebaugh added 14 in the Panthers win. For DLB, Paige Berard and Brooklyn Benno each had seven points in defeat.

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