YANKTON – The Huron Tigers led for 90% of the game, but the Yankton Gazelles hung around and forced Huron to come through with some late heroics to pull out the 55-48 win Saturday evening at the Summit Center.
“We are good at hitting timely shots,” Tiger coach Tim Buddenhagen said after the win. “Tonight, we got some good cuts to the basket, which got us some free throws which gave us a boost too. We didn’t just look to shoot from the outside.”
The fireworks started early as Huron threes from Bella Shreeve and Heavan Gainey countered a three from Claire Tershinski and staked Huron to an early lead halfway through the first period.
Gainey and Shreeve both dialed long distance again on the next two Tiger possessions and Huron held a 12-5 lead with 90 seconds left on the clock.
Yankton, however caught fire, as the Gazelles had a five-point possession, as Jordyn Salvatori scored and was fouled. She missed the ‘and-one,’ but Elle Feser got the rebound, scored and was fouled and made the charity toss. Another free throw, from Salvatori cut the Huron lead to one after the first quarter.
“We opened in a zone, but they got some open looks and hit some shots and we went to a man defense,” Buddenhagen said. “Normally, we rebound pretty well in our zone, but tonight may have been one of the poorest rebounding nights we have had.”
The Huron lead evaporated in the opening minute of the second quarter, as Tershinski again connected from distance to stake the Gazelles to a 14-12 lead. A layup from Isabelle Ellwein knotted the score again and when Gainey converted an old-time three point play Huron held a lead they wouldn’t give up the rest of the half.
An Alexis Feenstra three pointer at the 4:23 mark gave Huron a 23-19 lead, but Jillian Eidsness responded for the Gazelles. Gainey hit from deep again, off a drive and dish from Shreeve, the Shreeve scored on back-to-back possessions – the second one a deep three and Huron owned a 31-23 lead. A trading of buckets led to Huron holding a 33-26 lead as the teams jogged to the locker rooms at the half.
The teams traded baskets through the first portion of the third quarter, until a Hamtyn Heinz layup gave Huron an eight-point lead, at 41-33. Molly Savey hit back-to back threes for the Gazelles, however, and Yankton was back within two. Single free throws from Shreeve and Feenstra closed the quarter with a 43-39 lead.
Bryn Huber got Huron started with a three-pointer off the Tiger bench seconds into the final period and Huron again led by seven. But for the next five minutes, all the points came on the Gazelles’ end of the floor, as Kate Beeman, Anna Gordon and Salvatori keyed a run that tied the score at 46.
Shreeve hit a pair of charity tosses with two minutes on the clock to put Huron ahead. Yankton turned the ball over, leading to a Gainey floater with 1:12 to play, before Ellwein turned another Gazelle turnover into a three-point dagger with 47 seconds to play, which gave Huron a 53-46 lead. Gordon got a late basket, but Heinz stole a Yankton pass and cruised for the final basket of the game.
Gainey led all scorers in the game with 19 points as the 5-foot, 8-inch sophomore hoisted the team on her back when the Tigers needed a basket, with defense, or with a big rebound. Shreeve added 16 points as Huron improved to 10-8 on the season, the second straight year that the Tiger girls have had double digit wins, and they remain on track to host a home game in the SoDak 16 round.
“Getting to 10 wins is a big deal,” Buddenhagen said. “It means that we are continuing to build the program – we’re taking baby steps now – but the program is continuing to advance. Every game for us right now is a playoff game. We need to get better intensity and defense. If we can win one or even both of the last two games, it will be important.”
Huron travels to Harrisburg on Tuesday and then closes the regular season at Watertown on Thursday. Buddenhagen said that he was happy with how his team responded when Yankton tied the game late.
“We could have gone either way,” he said. “We could have rolled over and let them go on a run, but they stood up for themselves and showed their resiliency. Before we go to Harrisburg, we will need to work on our rebounding and we need to get better communication on defense.”
Huron 12 33 43 55
Yankton 11 26 39 48
Huron (10-8): Bella Shreeve 5 3-4 16; Heavan Gainey 7 2-3 19; Hamtyn Heinz 3 0-0 6; Alexis Feenstra 1 1-2 4; Isabelle Ellwein 3 0-0 7; Bryn Huber 1 0-0 3. Totals: 20 6-9 55.
Yankton (1-17): Jillian Eidsness 1 1-2 4; Claire Tershinski 4 0-0 12; Kate Beeman 2 0-0 4; Jordynn Salvatori 4 3-7 11; Molly Savey 2 0-0 6; Annika Gordon 3 0-0 6; Elle Feser 1 1-2 3; Macy Drotzmann 1 0-0 2. Totals: 18 5-11 48.