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Class B bounces back with Lions All-Star girls victory

Class B’s Gabby Wilkinson of Bismarck Shiloh Christian shoots to score during the North Dakota Lions All-Star girls basketball game Wednesday at the Fargo Civic Center. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

FARGO – North Dakota Class A girls basketball held a 39-25 record in the Lions All-Star game dating back to 1981 entering Wednesday night.

On Wednesday, Class B staked its territory in the win column when it defeated Class A 59-51 at the Fargo Civic Center.

“It was a good, tough battle from beginning to end,” Karleigh Weber, a Class B guard from Thompson, said. “I mean there has been that competition through ‘A’ and ‘B.’ But now ‘B’ has spoken saying that ‘B’ can put up the competition that ‘A’ has put up.”

Class B took the lead and never trailed again with about four minutes left in the first half. At halftime, Class B led 29-26.

“Our game plan was to play tough defense and not give them any air to breathe,” Gabby Wilkinson, a Class B forward from Bismarck Shiloh Christian, said.

The short but quick Class B team allowed only one player to reach double digits – Dierra Diegel.

The Valley City standout was the difference maker on both defense and offense for Class A, shooting 5-for-7 from the field to score 10 points.

The closest Class A came to leading in the second half was when Diegel drove to the lane for a layup to tie it 34-34.

A chance arose for Class A again when it came within five points with under three minutes to go when Jen Benz from Bismarck Century drained a 3-pointer to make the game 55-50.

However, Class B responded to extend its lead.

“I think we identified some of their tendencies,” Class B head coach Julie Stewart said. “By doing that I thought our match-ups were better, and we just got after it defensively. We competed hard and we wanted to win, but if you don’t win it’s still a lot of fun,”

Stewart has a 57-0 mark with back-to-back state championships under her belt in her last two seasons at Minot Ryan.

“Of course it’s an honor to be a part of the Lions All-Star team,” Wilkinson said. “And to be coached by the two time running state champion – it’s amazing.”

Wilkinson led all scorers with 13 points, seven of which came from the free-throw line.

Class B held North Dakota Miss Basketball Paige Peterson of Jamestown to only five points and five rebounds.

“We just wanted to go out there and outrun them and get them tired,” Weber said. “We didn’t have a lot of height so we just wanted to push the ball.”

The victory came with a little revenge from Tuesday’s game, when Class A took a 79-68 overtime victory from Class B in Bismarck.

“Playing with Class A, we respect them and they respect us – it’s pretty cool,” Wilkinson said. “They won one and we won one, so we’ll have to say it’s dead even.”

Class A: Benz 2 0-0 5, Bumgarner 1 5-9 7, Englehardt 2 4-4 8, Astrup 1 1-2 3, Diegel 5 0-3 10, Howling Wolf 0 0-0 0, Lynch 0 0-2 0, Peterson 2 1-2 5, Thorson 2 2-2 6, Hildre 2 0-2 4, Walford 1 0-0 3.

Class B: Wilkinson 3 7-8 13, Weber 4 0-1 9, Farstveet 0 0-0 0, Waldal 2 2-4 7, Henningsgard 1 4-6 6, Werner 0 1-2 1, Schmidt 1 3-4 5, Rovig 1 2-2 4, Galegher 3 2-6 9, Hochhalter 0 0-0 0, Schroeder 1 0-0 2, Heisler 1 0-0 3.

Half: Class B 29, Class A 26. 3-point goals: Class A 2 (Benz, Walford), Class B 4 (Heisler, Weber, Waldal, Galegher).