Sweet victory at the 2023 State B!

PHOTOS BY MIKE CARROLL/PLAINSMAN Members of the Viborg-Hurley girls’ basketball team celebrated on the floor at Huron Arena after winning the title at the Class B State Tournament on Saturday at Huron Arena.

HURON - The Viborg-Hurley Cougars took a close game in the fourth quarter and pushed the margin to double-digits, closing out back-to-back championships with a 71-61 victory over the Wall Lady Eagles Saturday at Huron Arena in the girls’ State B State Basketball Tournament.

Viborg-Hurley finishes 23-3 and Wall ends the year 20-5.

Wall coach John Hess said on Thursday that his team’s goal is to attack, attack, attack. Cougar coach Molly Mason said her team has spent the season with a target on their collective back and was eager to simply be able to play ball.

The attack of the Lady Eagles and the poise of the defending state champs defined most of the first half. A three from Charley Nelson was the only Cougars bucket in the first two minutes as the Lady Eagles built a 7-3 lead.

Denae Mach hit a jumper for Viborg-Hurley and then Coral Mason hit a pair of buckets around a put back basket by Paige Kjerstad for Wall to lead to the game being tied halfway through the first quarter.

With a three-point Cougar lead as the first came to a close, Rhea Tucker hit a three for Wall to tie the score at 17 after one.

A young Viborg-Hurley fans cheers on the team during the championship game of the Class B State Girls’ Basketball Tournament on Saturday at Huron Arena. 

The Lady Eagles got the first two buckets of the second quarter, but Viborg-Hurley responded with back-to-back threes from Nelson and Mach to regain the lead.

Nora Dinger was able to finally get going for Wall after struggling in the first, and she made six consecutive points for the Lady Eagles, tying the score at 27.

At that time, Tucker picked up her second foul, and when she went to the bench, Mason was able to work free underneath, forcing the Wall defense to collapse on her, leaving the Cougar guards open when Mason wasn’t getting shots.

The Cougars closed the first half on a 7-0 run to head to the break with a 34-27 lead.

The Cougars stormed out of the gate in the second half, with Mason scoring inside and Mach hitting from outside. After Mason converted a three-point play, Viborg-Hurley was up 44-29 after a 10-2 run to open the quarter.

Wall then started to chip away slowly at the lead, and a runner by Kjerstad with 11 seconds left in the third brought Wall within four, but Mason hit a runner with no time left on the clock to send it to the fourth with the defending champs ahead 51-45.

Coral Mason of Viborg-Hurley puts up a shot against a pair of Wall defenders during the championship game of the Class B State Girls’ Basketball Tournament on Saturday night at Huron Arena.

With Mason dominating the glass, Viborg-Hurley was able to limit Wall to one shot per possession and often get multiple looks each time down the court. It began to add up as the fourth quarter played on, with the Cougars pushing the lead out to as many as 14.

With 35 seconds, both teams emptied the benches before Viborg-Hurley closed out the 71-61 victory.

Coral Mason was dominant for the Cougars with 28 points and 16 rebounds. Denae Mach had 16 points and Charley Nelson added 14 points for Viborg-Hurley.

Wall was led by Paige Kjerstad with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Nora Dinger chipped in 13 points and Alexis Stephan dropped in 11.

In the post-game interview, Cougar coach Molly Mason announced that she will not be returning, leaving after winning the past two titles.

Viborg-Hurley     17 34 51 71
Wall         17 27 45 61

Viborg-Hurley (23-3): Charley Nelson 4 3-4 14, Estelle Lee 2 4-4 8, Coral Mason 9 10-14 28, Denae Mach 5 5-6 16, Shelby Lyons 2 0-0 5. Totals: 22 22-28 71.

Wall (20-6): Nora Dinger 5 1-3 13, Paige Kjerstad 8 4-6 21, Rhea Tucker 3 0-1 8, Skylie Wagner 0 2-2 2, April Schulz 2 0-0 4, Alexis Stephan 3 2-2 11, Kadence Kusser 1 0-0 2. Totals: .

FG: VH - 22/66 33%; W - 22/62 36%. 3-pt FG: VH - 5/22 (Nelson 3, Mach, Lyons); W - 8/21 (Stephan 3, Dinger 2, Tucker 2, Kjerstad). Rebounds: VH 43 (Mason 16), W 31 (Kjerstad 10). Assists: VH 6 (Lee 3), W 4 (Tucker 3). Steals: VH 8 (Nelson, Lyons 2), W 10 (Kjerstad 2). Turnovers VH 10, W 11. Fouls: VH 16, W 22.