Balanced attack lifts Century girls into Class A girls basketball title game

BISMARCK – The myth that defending state girls basketball champion Bismarck Century is a two-player team was dispelled Friday.

Chloe Markovic had 15 points to lead 10 players into the scoring column as the top-ranked and unbeaten Patriots beat Bismarck Legacy 60-25 in a North Dakota Class A state tournament semifinal game at the Bismarck Event Center.

Markovic and company stepped up to fill the void left by the lack of points by standouts Lauren Ware and Lilly Keplin, who average 39 points a game but were held to just 13 by the Sabers. In their place were Julia Fitterer with eight points, Ella Fridley and Keplin with seven each and Ware with six.

“We’ve got a number of games this year where teams have taken those two away and defended them pretty well and the other girls have stepped up,” Century coach Ron Metz said. “We’ve got some very talented offensive kids out there but the know their roles.”

Everybody’s role includes defense, which was on display from the opening tip. Legacy didn’t score its first field goal of the game until just 9:34 remained in the first half, at which time Century led 13-6.

Markovic made three of four 3-point attempts and scored 14 points. Ella Fridley added a 3-pointer and six of her seven points and Century took a 37-16 lead at the half. The Sabers handled the defensive pressure but shot only 20 percent.

Unfortunately for the Sabers, that was their good half. Legacy was stuck on 16 points for the first 14:26 of the second half. Maggie Woodbury scored on a running one-handed jumper from the right baseline with 5:34 to play.

Legacy shot seven percent in the second half (2-for-27) and finished the game at 13 percent.

“When they are getting shots, they’re end-of-the-shot-clock shots and runners. When we are giving them shots, they’re not easy shot,” Metz said. “We’re going to have to step up one more day and do that same thing.”

The Patriots (26-0) take on Devils Lake in a rematch of the 1987 title game, won by Devils Lake 61-50. Century is seeking its sixth state tile and fifth since 2010.

“It’s going to come down to execution and who handles the pressure better,” Metz said. “Turnovers could be a factor in the game tomorrow.”