Northern Cass girls withstand challenge from Oak Grove, advance to Region 1 semifinals
Haidyn Crockett and Halle Crockett combined for 42 points and Josie Jensen earned a double-double in the Jaguars' quarterfinal win over the Grovers on Monday.
FARGO — It’s on to the Region 1 semifinals for Northern Cass as the Jaguars defeated the Oak Grove Grovers 59-48 in a quarterfinal game Monday night at the Sanford Health Athletic Complex.
Although the Grovers made several runs at the Jaguars throughout the game, Northern Cass withstood the challenge, with Haidyn Crockett (23 points) and Halle Crockett (19) combining for 42 of the Jaguars' 59 points. Josie Jensen added 10 points and 10 rebounds.
After a slow start, with only one point in the first 3:29 of the game from a Halle Crockett free throw, the Jaguars started to roll with Haidyn Crockett putting up 10 straight points. The Jaguars held the lead the rest of the way.
“We played rusty like we did last year. Last year we came out kind of slow, too,” said Northern Cass coach D.C. Lucas. “But, credit to Oak Grove. They played really good basketball.”
The first of Oak Grove’s lunges at the Jaguars came in the second quarter as Sophia Geiger scored nine points for the Grovers in the last four-plus minutes of the quarter, including seven straight to cut the Jaguars' lead to four points.
But an Ellie Lucas free throw and Haidyn Crockett's back-to-back doubles, including a fast break layup to end the half, helped the Jaguars take a 10-point lead into the break.
To start the third, Oak Grove's Paightyn Downs set the tempo for the Grovers' second run at Northern Cass. Downs scored eight points in the opening 2:28 of the half, including two baskets off of steals in a 15 second span. But again, the Jags answered, with the Crocketts scoring 10 of the team's next 12 points.
“They have a nice little three-man game,” Lucas said. “And the one thing we really liked is the supporting cast was finding them open for 3s and kick-out drives, things like that. So, it was good to see that.”
Downs led the Grovers with 13 points, 12 coming in the second half. Geiger added nine points and Hailey Neumann scored eight.
“(Downs) sets the tone,” said Oak Grove coach Chad Slyter. “Our team and our defense will follow her. Once she gets going our team follows so it’s really important to have that mentality.”
While Downs and many of the Grovers players will next year, they bid farewell to their seniors — Azahna Luschen and Macey Tong — as the season came to a close.
“First and foremost, they are incredible people,” Slyter said of the seniors. “What they bring to our team has meant a lot in the foundation that we are building moving forward.”
Overall, Slyter is happy with how the Grovers' year went, ending the season at 12-9 overall and 4-6 in Region 1.
“It was a great year,” he said. “I think we took a step forward. We set goals at the beginning of the year and we achieved what we wanted to. So, hopefully, that lays the foundation for our younger group moving forward.”
The Jaguars now play the waiting game to find out who they will play in the semifinals or even when they will play.
Winter weather forced the rescheduling of the Kindred and Tri-State quarterfinal to Tuesday, which moved the second semifinal game to Wednesday. With tricky conditions predicted over the next couple of days, Lucas is hopeful the Jaguars can take advantage of the extra prep time.
“It’s a day of rest but, at the same time, I hope we get a chance to practice,” Lucas said. “It’ll be different but this is the second time the region tournament has been a little off from the schedule so we’re used to it. We kind of knew something was going to happen. But, every team has to go through it so we will just adapt to it the best we can.”
Northern Cass 13 16 14 16 — 59
Oak Grove 4 15 13 16 — 48
Northern Cass — Haidyn Crockett 23, Halle Crockett 19, Jensen 10, Jalbert 2, Winterquist 2, Lucas 1
Oak Grove — Downs 13, Geiger 9, Neumann 8, Mclllone 5, Kjos 5, Machayya 3, Bolme 3, Luschen 2