Third-quarter surge leads Honkers to 44-35 win over Tommies
Minot played host to one of the most exciting girls basketball games around the state on Saturday, as the No. 2 Kenmare/Bowbells Honkers (3-0 overall) faced off against the No. 6 Thompson Tommies (1-1 overall) during the Minot Auditorium Shootout.
Heading into the matchup, the Honkers won both their games where they beat their opponents by an average of 30 points. The Tommies, however, are finding their footing as they beat Bottineau by two points for their first game of the season the day before.
Hitting the court on a neutral site for both teams, fans flocked to a packed Minot Auditorium as the energy and excitement surrounding the matchup could be felt in the air. Coming out on top in the premier, top-ten matchup were the Honkers as they took down the Tommies by a 44-35 final.
“It’s fun playing teams like that, we were looking forward to that game. They are so solid defensively and you have to execute against them. There are no gimme points out there, so we were really looking forward to it,” Honkers head coach Mike Zimmer tells The Minot Daily News regarding a big early season game.
Showing an early display of a gritty game where no basket would come easy, defense was a strong point for both teams in the first quarter. It wasn’t until 2:39 left in the opening frame that the Honkers would get their first basket coming in the paint from Brenna Stroklund, cutting the Tommies’ lead to 9-2. A steal followed by an and-one bucket by Sydney Schwabe helped give the Tommies a 10-6 lead heading into the second quarter.
Being able to tie the game at 11-11 in the second quarter were the Honkers, but the Tommies would counter by going on an 8-0 run to take a 19-11 lead after a 3-pointer by Kya Hurst with just over two minutes left in the half.
An offensive rebound by Taya Aufforth and an excellent pass by Madison Melin would find Lilibeth Santizo for a wide-open layup, eliminating the run and making it a 19-13 game moving into the final minute. The Honkers would continue to utilize sound ball movement to find Aufforth in the paint, as she scored at the buzzer, trimming the Tommies’ lead to 19-15 at the break.
Ready to ignite her team on a frigid day, Mashae Miller drilled two 3-pointers before the halfway mark in the third quarter, being the driving force of a run that saw the Honkers tie the game at 24-24 with 5:18 to go. Kate Zimmer had a timely offensive rebound and layup to keep the Honkers run going and Brenna Stroklund gave the team their first lead of the day at 26-24 on a tough post bucket with 4:40 left.
This is when both teams began settling in and started finding their groove on offense. The Tommies would answer the run with one of their own, taking a 31-28 lead with 1:00 left in the quarter. Anne Stroklund of the Honkers would join Miller at the 3-pointer party, sinking one with 20 seconds left to bring the game back to a 31-31 tie at the end of the third quarter.
Not letting the break in the action slow down their improved three-point shooting ability, Melin would knock down a 3-pointer to give the Honkers a 37-31 lead and forcing the Tommies to take a timeout with 5:31 left. Timely free throws by Schwabe would make it a two-point game at 37-35 with 3:14 to play.
Showing a clutch free-throw shooting ability on the other end of the court was Zimmer, who sunk two to make it a four-point Honkers’ lead on the next possession. Zimmer would then show off her passing ability, finding Miller up court for a transition layup to extend their lead to 41-35 with 2:39 to play.
The Tommies would go cold down the stretch, as the Honkers maintained their lead and didn’t let up. Zimmer would continue to make an impact, adding three more free throws in the final minute to help the Honkers win 44-35.
“We got off to a shaky start, but we have a lot of composure, we have a lot of girls with a lot of experience, and it was fun. We enjoyed it,” Zimmer said.
Olivia Dick (11), Sydney Schwabe (7), Kya Hurst (7), Addison Sage (5), Brenna Marti (3), and Jordyn Tozer (2) combined for Thompson’s point total in the loss.
Kate Zimmer (15), Mashae Miller (8), Brenna Stroklund (7), Madison Melin (6), Anne Stroklund (3), Lilibeth Santizo (2), Taya Aufforth (2), and Alexa Varty (1) rounded things out for the Honkers.