Wall edges Lady Warbirds to reach Class B title game

PHOTOS BY MIKE CARROLL/PLAINSMAN Wolsey-Wessington’s Leah Williams heads for the basket as Paige Kjerstad of Wall defends during the semifinals of the Class B State Tournament on Friday at Huron Arena.

HURON – In a game that could be labeled an “instant classic,” the fifth-seeded Wall Lady Eagles defeated the top-seeded Wolsey-Wessington Lady Warbirds 76-72 Friday at Huron Arena to earn a place in the girls’ State “B” Tournament championship game.

Wall came out firing, as Paige Kjerstad had the Lady Eagles on the board 13 seconds into the game. Twenty-five seconds later, Alexis Stephan nailed a three to quickly give Wall a 5-0 lead.

The Lady Warbirds got on the board as Mallory Miller was able to get the ball in the hoop. After a free throw by Rhea Tucker, the Warbirds continued a run, as Leah Williams drained a three, Taylor Horn put in an offensive rebound, and Mallory Miller ran the court and got a bucket to put Wolsey-Wessington up 9-6.

Tucker would get a pair of free throws, and then her work down low would earn her another trip to the free throw line, where she would hit one of two to tie the game.

The teams exchanged blows for the next minute two minutes, with a bucket by Miller knotting the game at 16 with 1:48 left in the first period.

The Lady Eagles took flight from there, going on a 6-0 run to finish the quarter, forcing three Wolsey turnovers in the final 90 seconds of the quarter and capitalizing on the way to a 22-16 first quarter lead.

The first play of the second quarter, Nora Dinger hit a three to push the lead to nine. The two teams would battle back and forth around that distance for the first half of the second quarter.

Williams would drive in for a bucket to make it 30-24 with 4:05 left. From there, the Lady Warbirds went on an 11-5 run, capped by a pair of buckets by Mya Boomsma to tie the game at 35 with eight seconds remaining in the half.

Boomsma would be fouled on her final shot, and hit a free throw to give the Lady ‘Birds a 36-35 lead. Nora Dinger launched a long three just before half for Wall and hit nothing but net to send the Lady Eagles to the break with a 38-36 lead.

Taylor Horn hit a three to open the second half for the Lady Warbirds, beginning a third quarter that saw four lead changes and two ties, with the teams going back and forth.

As the third quarter ticked down, the teams were knotted at 53, and Skylie Wagner hit a jumper on the baseline on a kick-out drive by Nora Dinger to send Wall to the final frame with a 55-53 edge.

Williams got a bucket to open the fourth quarter and tie the score. The teams went back and forth for the next 90 seconds until Tucker hit a runner in the lane to give Wall a 62-60 lead. The Lady Eagles were able to push the lead out to 68-62 on two second chance baskets.

Williams nailed a three to bring the Lady Warbirds within three, but Dinger answered with a corner three. Boomsma hit a two with a two on the line to bring Wolsey-Wessington within 75-70 with 96 seconds remaining.

The Lady Warbirds would struggle to connect in their final four shots along with an untimely turnover as the team was going in for a layup on a steal. Wall was not able to add to the lead but held on for the 76-72 victory.

The Lady Eagles win their 20th game of the season, now 20-5, behind 24 points, four assists, and three steals from Nora Dinger. Paige Kjerstad added 17 points. Rhea Tucker chipped in 15 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.

Three Lady Warbirds ended up with 20 or more points as W-W falls to 22-3. Mya Boomsma topped the Lady ‘Birds with 21 points.

Leah Williams and Mallory Miller each had 20 points. Miller also had 15 rebounds and four assists.

Wall will face Viborg-Hurley in the championship tonight while the Lady Warbirds challenge Ethan for third place.

Wall         22 38 55 76
Wolsey-Wessington     16 36 53 72

Wall (20-5): Nora Dinger 9 1-3 24, Paige Kjerstad 5 7-8 17, Rhea Tucker 6 4-7 15, Skylie Wagner 3 0-0 6, April Schulz 2 0-0 4, Alexis Stephan 3 0-0 9. Totals: 28 12-18 76.

Wolsey-Wessington (22-3): Leah Williams 5 8-8 20, Payton Kemnitz 1 0-0 2, Taylor Horn 4 0-0 9, Mya Boomsma 8 1-1 21, Mallory Miller 7 5-7 20. Totals: 25 14-16-72.

FG: W - 28/70 40%; WW - 25/57 44%. 3-pt FG: W - 8/23 (Dinger 5, Stephan 3); WW 8/13 (Boomsma 4, Williams 2, Horn, Miller). Rebounds: W 38 (Tucker 15), WW 30 (Miller 15). Assists: W 10 (Dinger 4), WW 13 (Miller 4). Steals: W 16 (Dinger 3), WW 12 (Boomsma 2). Turnovers: W 13, WW 18. Fouls: W 12, WW 16.