The Squirrels will face Wyndmere-Lidgerwood in the semifinals on Tuesday. Kindred and Northern Cass will play in the other semifinal game.
Central Cass turned its defensive pressure into points all game long as it ran away from Tri-State. The Squirrels dominated on the defensive end, forcing Tri-State into turnover after turnover. And they turned those turnovers into fast break points, with players sprinting up the court in transition.
“We knew our pressure could get to them,” Central Cass coach Jay Bachman said. “We knew our pressure was going to be a big advantage for us. So we came in and made that a big part of our game plan.”
Squirrels forward Decontee Smith was a force on both ends. She was strong defensively inside and out and led the Squirrels with 14 points.
“Smith had an amazing game,” Bachman said. “She came ready to play. She was excited. You could see before the game she was excited. She’s ready for every game, every practice, it doesn't matter. It’s fun to see her do that and show what she is capable of.”
Even with a 30-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Squirrels never slowed down, sprinting up the court in transition and diving for loose balls. The effort showed on the scoreboard as No. 1-seed closed out the game on an 11-1 run. Central Cass only allowed three points from Tri-State in the entire fourth quarter.
“We pride ourselves on our effort,” Bachman said. “We pride ourselves on playing hard on every play. We have goals that we want to meet individually and our team goals. We play — when we’re in there it doesn’t matter what we do, we play hard.”
Halle Crockett took over down the stretch as Northern Cass defeated Richland in the quarterfinals.
Crockett scored 16 of her game-high 23 points in the second half including 10 in the fourth quarter.
“I didn’t want this to be our last game,” Crockett said. “I just went out there and hustled and worked as a team and worked the ball well around doing that high-low. We had a good practice yesterday so we just came in with that winning mindset.”
The Colts pulled within six points in the first minute of the fourth quarter with four quick points by McKenzie Johnson. But Halle Crockett and her sister Haidyn Crockett responded for the Jaguars. Haidyn made a pair of free throws and Halle converted an and-1 and added two more free throws in a 7-2 run.
The Jaguars defense was stout early, allowing only seven points in the first quarter and eight in the second. Northern Cass created turnovers, out-rebounded the Colts, and turned the turnovers into fast break points.
“Defense is all about communicating and helping each other out, just talking,” Halle Crockett said. “We’re a good defensive team. That’s how we get going. That’s how we get our energy is on defense.”
Richland star guard Megan Roob led the Colts with 18 points. The Jaguars doubled her for much of the game and she had a hard time finding an open shot. Early on, she took advantage of the extra defensive pressure on her by passing to open teammates, but the shots just weren’t falling for the Colts early. As the game wore on, Roob tried to take over, forcing shots in traffic, but Haidyn Crockett did a good job of containing her.
“Our No. 2, my sister Haidyn did a really good job on her, she shut her down,” Halle Crockett said. “She played great defense getting up in her face and getting her rattled. It was important to slow her down. That was our goal.”
Wyndmere-Lidgerwood pulled away in the second half as it defeated Lisbon 50-39 in the region quarterfinals. After entering halftime tied at 21, the Warbirds outscored the Broncos 29-18 in the second half.
W-L separated itself with an 8-0 run to close the third quarter. Drew Frolek and Kendra Kaczynski each scored four points in the run.
The Broncos pulled within four points at 42-38 as they opened the fourth quarter on a 5-0 run. Elizabeth Rieger scored four of the five points in the run. The Warbirds responded, closing the game on an 8-1 run.
Four Warbirds finished in double-figures for scoring. Drew Frolek led the way with a game-high 15, while Kendra Kaczynski scored 12. Gracie Kaczynski added 11, ahead of Zoey Bohnenstingl's 10.
Kendra Odegard led the Broncos with 12 points and Sheyenne Waletzko scored eight.
The Broncos led by as many as 6 points midway through the second quarter, but the Warbirds charged late in the half. W-L closed the frame with an 8-2 run to send it into halftime tied.
The Warbirds will face Central Cass in the semifinals at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. The Squirrels defeated Wyndmere-Lidgerwood 65-28 in an early-season meeting back on Dec. 22.
Kacie Burner scorched Sargent County with 27 points and led the Vikings to a region quarterfinal victory.
Burner opened the second half with four-straight 3-pointers as she pushed her team’s lead to 52-23. She added a fifth 3 down the stretch and scored 19 points after the break.
As a team, the Vikings made nine 3s. Charli McQuillan made two, and Abby Duchscherer and Kaydence Streyle made one each.
Kindred dominated every facet of the game. They owned the boards, forced turnovers on defense and shot the lights out.
The Bulldogs had nobody to match up with the Vikings’ tandem of athletic 6-foot-1 forwards Duchscherer and Terryn Johnson. Duchscherer scored 18 points with 14 coming in the first half and Johnson scored 17.
The Vikings jumped on Sargent County right away, running out to a 22-7 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Duchscherer closed out the first half with a half-court buzzer beater to send the Vikings into the break with a 40-20 lead. Johnson intercepted a pass near the 3-point line with about 3 seconds to go. She struggled to gain control of the ball, but finally got it and sent a short pass ahead to Duchscherer who threw up a heave and drained it.