Top seed Central Cass cruises by Hettinger-Scranton in Class B girls quarterfinals
Central Cass was able to show off its depth early. Seven players hit a field goal in the opening half.
MINOT, N.D. — Top seed Central Cass continued its strong season Thursday with a 58-43 win over Hettinger-Scranton in the quarterfinal round of the North Dakota Class B girls state basketball tournament at the Minot State Dome.
The Squirrels were efficient shooters during the regular season, shooting just under 50%, and that trend continued in the first half against the NightHawks. Two first quarter 3-pointers from Klaire Cotton and Kailey McKinnon along with three steals and a thunderous block by Decontee Smith helped give Central Cass a 17-9 lead after the first quarter.
"This is exactly what I was expecting," Central Cass head coach Jay Bachman said following the victory. "A hard-fought game. I knew they were going to get touches almost every time down the court. Honestly, that's how we thought it was going to be. We thought we'd pull away in the third with our depth and that's what we did."
Central Cass was able to show off its depth early. Seven players hit a field goal in the opening half. A bright spot in that production was junior guard Morgan Lee cleaning up from the paint, as her six first-half points came on inside shots.
Despite strong pushes from the NightHawks, including 3-pointers from Ella Jensen and Bailee Pierce, the Squirrels maintained the lead throughout the first half. An 8-2 Hettinger-Scranton run was smothered by a 3-pointer from Lee in the final minute of the second quarter, pushing the Squirrels’ lead to 26-19.
"I think our energy really picked up (after halftime)," Bachman said. "It was a team effort. We had Morgan (Lee) off the bench step up and that was huge for us. Dee Smith turned it on in that second half there and that's what we needed."
In the third quarter, Central Cass began taking command of the rebounding game. Its three offensive and eight total rebounds helped keep them in the driver’s seat. This led to an aggressive offense and second-chance opportunities.
"Everyone played their part. My starters hardly played in the fourth quarter and that's huge when you're playing three games in a row," Bachman said.
At the end of the third, Central Cass (23-1) controlled things 41-27.
The Squirrels continued to roll in the fourth quarter as their momentum continued. Smith picked up six points in transition, thanks to quality defensive plays.
Jaylin and Klaire Cotton combined for nine points in the final quarter.
"We just needed to play how we played this whole season. Just bring out our energy," Smith said. "Every team is going to give us their all so we have to do the same."
Lee and Smith finished the game with 16 and 13 points, respectively, with Smith adding four steals to the stat sheet.
Samantha Oase notched 15 points, nine rebounds and three assists for Hettinger-Scranton, while Pierce tallied 14 points.