Yes, Garrison's girls basketball team is young -- to the max. The Troopers start two juniors and three sophomores.
Yet their youthfulness didn't show in Monday's first-round Region 5 tournament tilt against Grant County, at least not until the game was safely in hand.
Garrison opened a 21-point lead early in the second half on a 3-pointer by Sweet Cedar Perkins and went on to down Grant County 63-52.
The Troopers move on to face Wilton-Wing, the top seed from District 10, in Tuesday's 6 p.m. semifinal at the Mandan High School gym. Garrison is the No. 3 seed from District 10.
Garrison used sticky zone defense and 53 percent shooting to open a 35-18 halftime lead and expanded the advantage to 50-30 after three quarters.
But a rash of turnovers, 14 in the second half, including eight in the fourth quarter, clipped the Troopers' wings over the final 16 minutes.
Perkins, a 5-foot-8 junior guard, was the game's top scorer with 23 points, 15 in the second half. Karli Klein, a 5-10 sophomore, scored 15 points and pulled down at team-high eight rebounds. Emily Schlehr, a 5-9 freshman forward, also reached double figures for Garrison with 12 points to go with seven rebounds.
Samantha Ellison, a 5-10 junior, had 14 points for Grant County. Anna Schatz, a 5-10 sophomore, contributed 11 points and eight rebounds for the Coyotes.
Garrison shot 56 percent for the game. Grant County shot 38 percent, but controlled the boards 35-28 and had a 17-14 edge in takeaways.
Perkins, who averages 15 points per game, said the first half was the type of basketball that's forged an 18-4 record.
"The first half is how we play. We like to run. We have shooters and we try to get our big (Klein) involved," she said. "The second half we didn't play defense like we can. We got complacent."
"We weren't running our offense as well as we could (after intermission). We have to be way more patient," she added.
Perkins said it will take 32 good minutes against Wilton-Wing in the semifinal round.
"We all have to be mentally prepared. They're a good team, and we'll have to be careful with the ball. And we can't let them have second-chance opportunities," she observed.
Matt Chase is Garrison's first-year head coach, but said he's coached his current team at the lower levels of the Trooper basketball program.
Garrison dressed only eight players on Monday, and Chase said that's what the team will look like the rest of the season.
"Unfortunately, our junior varsity team is made up of junior high girls, and they ran out of weeks and quarters (of allowable playing time)," he said. "This is the first game they haven't been able to play."
Having coached this group of girls earlier, Chase said he expected a good season, the dearth of seniors notwithstanding.
"I knew how talented they were. ... They have a lot of chemistry together," he noted.
Garrison's inability to expand on a comfortable halftime lead is something Chase has seen before.
"We've had a tendency to not build on a lead," he noted.
While the Troopers were never in danger of losing, Grant County did trim the spread to 59-50 on Schatz's basket on an in-bounds play with 54 seconds remaining.
"We've got to get better in those clock-management situations, for sure," Chase said.
Wilton-Wing 52, Standing Rock 25
Wilton-Wing dominated from start to finish, building a 17-5 cushion in the first quarter and limiting the Warriors to 14 points over the first three periods.
Twelve Miner players played and eight of them scored. Hailey Quam, a 5-10 sophomore, was the only Wilton-Wing player to reach double figures. She scored 14 points in nine minutes on the floor.
Chania Crow Ghost scored eight points for Standing Rock, the No. 4 seed from District 9.
Shiloh Christian 67, Central McLean 36
Shiloh, the defending regional champion, limited Central McLean to 15 first-half points while building a 16-point lead and wasn't threatened in the second half.
The winning Skyhawks shot 56 percent while holding the Cougars to 30 percent. Shiloh controlled the boards 39-25 with Dedra Wood grabbing 10 caroms. The only blemish on Shiloh's effort was a 20-turnover count.
Grace Kelly, a 6-1 junior, scored 17 points to pace the Skyhawk offense. Jacie Hall, a 6-3 senior, added 14 points. Nine Shiloh players logged minutes, and all scored.
Anna Skachenko, a 5-4 freshman guard, tallied 12 points for Central McLean.
Shiloh, the top seed from District 9, meets Center-Stanton, No. 2 from District 10, in tonight's 7:30 semifinal.
Center-Stanton 63, Flasher 47
It took Center-Stanton's Wildcats a while to get rolling, but when they hit their stride it was lights-out.
Down nine points at the end of the first quarter, Center-Stanton rallied for a six-point halftime lead and a 63-47 victory over Flasher in the final game of the day.
Center-Stanton displayed plenty of balance while shooting 50 percent. Katie Frank, a 5-7 sophomore, led the way with 18 points, followed by 5-8 senior Kathryn Kraft with 16, 5-8 senior Kori Nagel with 12 and 5-8 freshman Ericka Vosberg with 10.
Flasher's Leandra Schmidt, a 5-11 senior, led all scorers with 19 points. Tymber Boldt, a 5-10 senior, added 15 points and yanked down 13 rebounds.
The Wildcats logged 16 takeaways and limited Flasher to 32 percent shooting.