Class B embraced the underdog role going into Monday's Lions All-Star basketball game in Bismarck.
They won't be able to do that again Tuesday night in Fargo, though. Not after pulling the upset inside a jam-packed Legacy High School gym.
Jordyn Worley's putback bucket with 22 seconds left was the difference as the Class B girls overcame double-digit deficits in both halves to thrill the large Monday night crowd with a 72-70 victory. Class A entered the night with a 44-30 all-time advantage in the series, which is being played for the 42nd time. Game 2 is Tuesday night at the Fargo Civic Center.
"It's just amazing. It's been a dream of mine my whole life to play in this game ... and we won," said Worley, who scored 1,803 points during her career for Langdon-Edmore-Munich. "It's been so fun to get to know these girls and what they're like away from basketball. Then here we are and you look at up at the scoreboard and we won. Wow. It's incredible."
Worley poured in a game-high 17 points, including a key 3-pointer late to put Class B back in front 69-67 with 1:55 to go.
On the next possession, Reagan Linster of Fargo Davies completed an old-fashioned 3-point play to put Class A up 70-69.
Still 70-69, Carrington's Emerson Hoornaert lined up an open 3-point try from the corner. The shot was off the mark but landed right in the hands of Worley who stuck it back to take the lead (71-70) with 22 seconds left.
"I saw it was going over a little bit. I jumped up and it landed right in my hands," Worley said.
Class A went to Whitney Thomas on its final possession, but the Legacy High School standout was unable to finish in the paint against heavy defensive pressure. Class B cleared the rebound with 1.7 seconds left. Anna Holen of LaMoure, the 2018 Miss Basketball winner, made one free throw with 0.7 seconds left to finish the scoring.
"Every year Class B is the stereotypical underdog but we wanted to prove we weren't the underdog," said Holen. "We just kept fighting and scrapping for everything and were able to get the 'W.'"
Holen is headed to the University of Jamestown to play volleyball and was thoroughly enjoying the moment after undergoing some serious basketball withdrawal.
"When our season ended I was in denial. I kept thinking, this can't be the end," she said. "I'm super, super excited to have this opportunity to play two more games and then for us to be able to win tonight. It's amazing. It really is."
Class A pulled in front by 14 (39-25) with four minutes left in the first half on a triple by Tonya Dvorak of St. Mary's.
The lead was trimmed to six at halftime (39-33), but back-to-back buckets in the second half by Mary Sem of Fargo North and Century's Bailee Otterness appeared to put Class A in command at 54-42.
Turnovers were a problem all night, however. Class A had 21 in all, 11 coming in the second half.
"We didn't take care of the ball as well as we needed to in the second half," Class A coach Ron Metz said. "We had a lot of turnovers in the first half and even more in the second half."
Linster, Kierra Frieh of West Fargo Sheyenne and Century's Mariya Kinnebrew had 10 points apiece for Class A, who hit six 3-pointers in the first half but just one over the second 20 minutes.
"The effort the girls gave was great. We did a lot of really good things, they just had a better sprint to the finish than we did," said Metz, head coach of state champion Century. "It was a great atmosphere. The fans really got into it. Give (Class B) credit. They made a few more plays down the stretch than we did."
The win capped off a memorable few months for Nicole Bentz, who coached Grant County to the state Class B championship in March, which followed knocking off No. 1-ranked and undefeated Shiloh Christian for the Region 5 crown.
"I'm just so happy for the girls. They played with so much heart and desire. They really got after it," Bentz said. "It was a great effort by the whole team. You could pretty much go right down the list. Everybody played a part in making this happen."
Bentz said there were nerves going into the game even after their magical postseason run.
"This is the most stressful game I've ever coached, even beyond state," she said. "We have 12 great athletes and you're trying to count minutes because you want everybody to play and enjoy this experience.
"They sure made it memorable, though. We'll remember this one for a long time."