The Century Patriots were superior for a span that lasted a little better than three minutes.
Coach Ron Metz doesn’t care if it’s 30 seconds, just as long as the Patriots get the job done.
Century fashioned a 12-1 run in 3 minutes, 3 seconds. That was all the time it needed to defend its West Region tournament title on Saturday night at the Civic Center. The No. 1-seeded Patriots grinded out a 69-62 victory over the No. 2 Mandan Braves.
Century (23-1) will take the top seed into next week’s Class A state tournament at the Civic Center and matches up with No. 4 East seed Wahpeton. The Patriots have now won 20 straight and their lone loss of the season came early in the season to Campbell County in Wyoming. Century’s last loss to a North Dakota team came to Fargo Shanley in last season’s state title game. Mandan (15-9) will be seeded No. 2 at state and matches up with No. 3 East seed West Fargo.
Even though Mandan played toe-to-toe with the Patriots, Metz loved his team’s resiliency in being able to put together that 12-1 run, which was the difference.
“There was a stretch where we sat on 36 points for what seemed like an eternity,” Metz said. “We did some things to get some good looks, and the basket wasn’t opening up for us. We kept working on those things and it eventually started going in the basket.”
Regan Dennis led Century with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Teammate Hannah Holtz added 18 points, hitting all four of Century’s 3-pointers. Jenna Fitterer chipped in with 15 points, netting 11 of 12 attempts from the free-throw line.
Mandan was led by Courtney Olson with 14 points. Miranda Lowman added 12 and Megan Zander 11.
The Braves played right with the Patriots. They played through six ties and six lead changes in the second half—and then the 12-1 run came. Dennis netted a turnaround jumper with 4:15 remaining to knot the score at 51. Kourtney Selensky canned a free-throw line jumper at 3:48 to put Century up 53-51—a lead the Patriots didn’t relinquish. Jenna Fitterer scored from the left side and Dennis provided a stickback, a short jump shot and her pair of gift tosses at 1:12 closed the run for a 61-52 lead.
“We just had to keep pushing ourselves,” said Dennis, a 5-foot-11 junior. “If we just keep working together shots will fall. When the shots do fall, everyone gets so much more excited.”
Century sealed the contest from the foul line, hitting all 10 attempts. The Patriots connected on 21 of 25 tries.
Even though the Braves couldn’t withstand the final charge, they still kept plugging along and never let the contest get out of control.
“We fought back, and that’s what these kids have done all year,” Mandan coach Abby Thomas said. “They just keep fighting and I’m so proud of them. We knew we could compete with them if we got the chance, and we did.”
Mandan lost starter Mackensi Higlin, a guard who was an unanimous selection to the all-tournament team, at 11:38 of the second half when she attacked the basket and collided with Century’s Josie Anderson. Higlin injured her right hip and will get it checked out before the state tournament. Thomas is hoping she’ll be able to play.
“She’s a big influence on our team,” Thomas said. “It hurts us when a player like that goes down, even depth-wise. We’re short depth-wise the way that it is. When a player goes down like that, you have to find a way to step up. When it’s something that happens in the middle of a game and you have to make adjustments, that can take a toll on a team. The girls did a good job and don’t make excuses.”
MANDAN (62): Kennedy Harris 3-11 1-4 8, Mackensi Higlin 3-6 2-4 8, Miranda Lowman 4-5 4-6 12, Hannah Hanson 2-7 0-0 5, Alicia Weiand 1-5 2-2 4, Sharlee Assel 0-0 0-0 0, Megan Zander 4-8 1-2 11, Courtney Olson 5-8 4-8 14. Totals 22-50 14-26 62.
CENTURY (69): Lexi Brown 0-3 1-2 1, Jenna Fitterer 2-8 11-12 15, Kourtney Selensky 3-12 0-0 6, Hannah Holtz 6-12 2-2 18, Regan Dennis 9-16 5-5 23, Josie Anderson 0-1 2-2 2, Hannah Schwartz 0-2 0-0 0, Maddie Klein 2-8 0-0 4, Lilly Keplin 0-1 0-2 0. Totals 22-63 21-25 69.
Halftime: C 26, M 20.
3-pointers: M 4 (Zander 2, Harris 1, Hanson 1), C 4 (Holtz 4). Rebounds: M 35 (Hanson 9), C 42 (Dennis 11). Assists: M 10 (Harris 5), C 12 (Fitterer 4). Steals: M 7 (Zander 3), C 12 (Fitterer). Turnovers: M 19, C 11. Fouls: M 20, C 20. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None.
Records: M 15-9 overall; C 23-1
Senior athlete of the year: Cassie Askvig, Minot.
Co-coaches of the year: Ron Metz, Century, and Andy Skunberg, Jamestown.
Century: Regan Dennis. Legacy: Mercedes Baumgartner. Mandan: Mackensi Higlin. Minot: Cassie Askvig. Turtle Mountain: Ashley Davis.
Century: Kourtney Selensky. Jamestown: Bailey Lamp. St. Mary’s: Kaitlyn Wanner. Legacy: Whitney Thomas. Mandan: Hannah Hanson.