Article by J. Reed Anderson, DLJ GM, January 18th, 2018
The NDSCS Wildcats travelled from Wahpeton to take on the LRSC Royals last night. The women played the first game, and the men got the late game.
The Wildcat women were 17-2 coming into game, and the men were 15-4. The Lady Royals were 13-8 coming into the night, and the men were 14-8.
The Lady Royals were absolutely flat in the first quarter scoring only four points. The Wildcats put 17 on the board, and a lot of that was due to the Wildcats freshman guard Mina Porte who found her way through the lane seemingly at will the whole game. The Lady Royals couldn't find a path through the paint or along the baseline and settled for working the ball back out for perimeter shots.
R'rionna Brock broke the Lady Royals doldrums right at the start of the second quarter with one from the arc, followed by another from Annie Jorgensen. Defensively they held the paint and prevented Porte from much penetration during the quarter, which was tough to do because she was so quick through any hole, especially along the baseline. And they forced Wildcat turnovers.
Slowly the Wildcat lead diminished, down to nine, eight, finally within three, 31-28, from two trips to the line from Maara Nelson with ten seconds in the half. Wildcat Lauren Johnson swished a three at the buzzer to give the Wildcats a six-point lead going into the half.
The Lady Royals came out strong again to begin the third. They got a couple of stops and an Emily Schafer three put them within one, 34-33. And then Wildcat Mina Porte put her team on her back and was unstoppable. The Wildcats went on a 24-6 run in the quarter, leading 56-39 going into the fourth.
And they started the fourth with a 10-2 run. Once the Wildcats hit a 20 point margin they just worked the ball until the clock ran out of minutes. The final score was 77-53, Wildcats.
The Royal men started with a 16-4 run. And then the Wildcats put up an 8-1 run of their own, giving the Royals just a seven point lead, 21-14, at the 12 minute mark. Royal head coach Jared Marshall started his bigs, and Harvey Barr was nearly undefendable in the low post picking up easy buckets. Jordan Bolton found easy paths through the lane.And that quickly Sam Baker got open and it was 22-21 Wildcats.
Wildcat Sam Baker went six for six from the arc in the first quarter and that deficit the Royals could not surmount.The first half ended with the Wildcats up 49-34.
The Royals picked up five points on the Wildcats, but the Wildcats maintained a ten- to twelve point lead for the first ten minutes in the second half. Then the Royals started playing. They slashed to the paint, forced turnovers, finally pulling down defensive boards, but more important they got defensive stops. The Royals produced a 10-0 run to pull within one point, 63-62. Defensively they managed to slow down Baker and Oman Oman, too.
It was still a one possession game near the six minute mark, and one more time they closed the gap to three, but the Royals just couldn't get the little bit more to go ahead. The final score was Wildcats 87, Royals 79.
"You can't stop someone like Mina Porte," said Lady Royal head coach Danny Mertens after the first game. "She's just too good an athlete. You just hope you can contain her. We'll face them a couple more times, so I'm not laying my cards on the table after the first game as to how we'll do that.
"Give them credit: they're a good team. But we're a much better shooting team than we were tonight. We had a terrible first quarter and a great second quarter, and a strong start to the third quarter. Give them credit. The capitalized on our mistakes. But we showed we can play with them. The girls know that. That's important."
Men's head coach Jared Marshall had the game's stat sheet in his hand. "It was actually a close game," he said. "Maybe I should've kept the lineup I had instead of going small, but with what they were doing it seemed like the best thing.Yeah, I sat my bigs. But look at the stats. They had 21 points off turnovers and we had 19. We had more points off the bench, and we scored more threes. They did kill us on the boards. But free throws, that's where we hurt ourselves. We went 11 for 19, and they went 20 for 26. So you know, a few more boards, a couple of more stops, and better shooting from the line and it's a very different game."