After getting the tempo a little more to their liking, the St. Mary’s Saints took control.
Sydney Smith scored 10 of her game-high 16 points in the second half, and the Saints won their second straight game of open the season, a 60-46 West Region decision over Bismarck at the St Mary’s gymnasium on Friday night.
“In the first half, we got into an up and down game with them and they were taking advantage of the transition,” St. Mary’s coach Shannon Copas said. “So we wanted to slow it down a bit. We do like to push the ball ourselves but we felt that we had a better advantage in the halfcourt.”
The Demons gained a split in the doubleheader, as the BHS boys shook off a slow start to pick up a 74-63 win over the Saints later in the evening.
The Saints started to click a bit offensively late in the first half, reeling off eight straight points to turn a 20-20 tie into an eight-point advantage.
But the Demons battled back to trim the deficit to five (31-26) at the break, and pulled within three on a Dani Korsmo basket early in the second half.
A change of pace turned the tide.
“We did slow it down a little bit,” Copas said. “We went into our halfcourt defense vs. a transitional defense. That seemed to change the momentum a little bit.
“We slowed down a little bit and kind of took a deep breath. We did what we wanted to do rather than play their game.”
Smith scored 10 points during a game-turning 17-5 run that built a 48-33 Saints lead with 11:03 remaining.
“We realized we weren’t playing to our full potential. We weren’t working our hardest,” Smith said. “We came out strong in the second half.”
“She’s that type of a player where sometimes she just takes it on her back and she goes with it,” Copas said. “She did that tonight and it really sparked us on offense and on the defensive side too. She energized our team.”
Smith finished with 16 points and Marriann Senftner added 13 for the Saints (2-0 overall, 2-0 West Region). Taylor Gerving added seven.
Kadee Ryckman paced the Demons (1-1 overall, 1-1 West Region) with 13 points and Mady Mosolf added 11.
“Bismarck is a well-coached team and you can’t get into their style of game, especially with how small they are this year,” Copas said. “They’re going to be there again this year, so hats off to the girls for working hard and getting through the runs and getting a win.”
BHS 74, SM 63
St. Mary’s landed a heavy punch early.
But this was no quick decision.
The Saints reeled off the first nine points of the game, and led 13-6 early.
But Bismarck responded. A 16-4 run turned the tide, giving the Demons a 22-17 lead just three minutes later.
“Hats off to St Mary’s,” Demons coach Jordan Wilhelm said. “We knew they were going to come ready to play. The scores early in the season are not indicative of the way that this St. Mary’s team is going to be. We knew that they were going to play hard, we knew that they were going to play really well at home. The problem is we didn’t really match their energy early.
“As soon as we matched their energy, I think some things started to go our way.”
Bismarck shot its way back into the game and into the lead. The Demons hit 10 3-pointers in the game – three apiece from Matt Trolliey and Ian Schafer and two each from Joe Jahner Jr. and Tanner Davis.
They hit eight from beyond the arc in the first half building a 40-29 lead at the intermission.
The Demons’ depth paid off, as four different players hit double figures – 16 each for Davis and Schafer, 12 for Stonecipher and 11 for Trolliey. John Ziegler added eight and Jahner six.
“We’ve said all season, we don’t feel like we have five starters – we have eight, nine, 10 guys that can play,” Wilhelm said. “On any given night, you’re going to see a different closing lineup from us. I don’t think a lot of teams in our league can say that.
"We’re going to rely on our bench heavily. We have seven, eight guys back that played in the state tournament last year, so we have state tournament experience and a lot of those guys came off the bench for us a season ago. So we don’t look at it as a bench, we look at it as we have seven or eight guys that can play.”
Stonecipher came up big in the closing minutes, with back-to-back clutch baskets and a pair of free throws to fend off the Saints, who had climbed within six (65-59) with just over two minutes remaining.
Cole Gendreau led the Saints (0-3, 0-2 West Region) with 21. Luke Kambeitz added 13 and John Nordberg chipped in with 10.
“I thought our kids played with great energy tonight. They answered the bell when they got down early,” Wilhelm said. “It was fun to see them battle back in a tough environment. It’s never easy to win at the Tank. Every year we come out here and we struggle. They beat us here a season ago so we knew that they were going to be ready to play.”