Starry-eyed showdown: Medina-Pingree-Buchanan tops LaMoure-Litchville-Marion at Target Center
MINNEAPOLIS —More than 300 miles from home, the Medina-Pingree-Buchanan Lady Thunder and the LaMoure-Litchville-Marion Loboes were starry-eyed walking onto the same hardwood floor of the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves and the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx.
And after both teams watched the Wolves' 128-125 overtime victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night, there was plenty of inspiration to play well.
"Just seeing how packed it got (on Wednesday night) and the NBA players being on the same floor as us, that's awesome. We were all a little starstruck," said L-L-M senior guard Anna Holen, who played at the Target Center for the second time after making the trip to Minneapolis with her teammates as an eighth-grader. "We were all trying to find our inner Jimmy Butler."
Both the Lady Thunder and Loboes had to focus. The bright lights and NBA court notwithstanding, there was a major game with North Dakota Class B, Region 3 girls basketball implications to play on Thursday afternoon.
"It was a little strange," M-P-B senior post Taylor Sabinash said about playing a region game in another state. "It's so cool to be on this court where the big players play. It's amazing to be out here.
"Warm-ups, I was definitely nervous. A lot of us were like, 'Oh my gosh, this is such a big experience.' As you get into the game and you're playing, it's like, 'You know what, it's another game. Just relax and do your thing.' And that's what we did."
Thanks to its post play and the team's length causing fits on the defensive end, No. 8-ranked M-P-B was able to earn a 56-45 victory against previously-unbeaten and No. 5-ranked L-L-M.
"It really meant a lot, especially in this big gym," Sabinash said. "It's amazing being here. And with all the support we got from our fans, it was a fantastic experience."
The first half was tight as the Lady Thunder had a 26-25 halftime lead over the Loboes after Megan Moser hit a 3-pointer to take the lead with six seconds to go before the break.
In the second half, M-P-B's defense took over, limiting the Loboes to four points in the third quarter. Before Thursday's game, the Loboes were averaging 68.3 points per game.
"They were really aggressive and we didn't really match that," said Holen, who finished with a team-high 15 points.
L-L-M made it a one-point possession after a Jackie Meiklejohn 3-pointer that made it a 40-37 game with 5:35 to play.
But the Lady Thunder were able to pull away with an 11-0 run. Like Butler the night before, Sabinash saved her best for last with five of her game-high 20 points coming in that stretch.
"We used our size to our advantage today, offensively and defensively," said Lady Thunder head coach Brett Thielges. "Hopefully we can continue to do that."
The L-L-M boys team defeated Glenburn 73-55 at Target Center following the girls game. Loboes junior forward Jamison Kramer poured in a game-high 32 points.
M-P/B 11 26 38 56
L-L/M 11 25 29 45
M-P/B (56): Taylor Sabinash 20, Amanda Allen 11, Megan Moser 7, Lauren Moser 7, Jadyn Pollert 6, Halle Uehran 4, Gracie Bohl 1.
L-L/M (45): Anna Holen 15, Ellie Holen 11, Jackie Meiklejohn 8, Olivia Bliss 4, Kindra Hamlin 3, Kaylynn Siedschlag 2, Alyssa Ragan 2.
L-L-M 15 33 52 73
Glenburn 12 30 41 55
L-L/M (73): Jamison Kramer 32, Shay Ness 18, Alex Klever 10, Jacob Ulmer 6, Jared Beck 2, Calen Rode 2, Jamin Kramer 2, Caleb Hirschkorn 1.
Glenburn (55): Trent Marquart 19, Blaine Stevens 14, Matthew Dufner 5, James Virtue 4, Brekken Bachmeier 3, Jalyn Derr 2, Clayton Stucki 2, Colby Mendiola 2, Trey Welstad 2, Tucker Johnson 2.