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Eric Peterson, Published February 25 2009

Region 1 title-game rematch: Hankinson, Central Cass to meet for championship

Cody Geffre made the only two free throws she attempted Tuesday at the Fargo Civic Center. Her timing was impeccable.

Geffre sank two foul shots with 12 seconds to play to help Hankinson hold on for a 54-48 victory against Northern Cass in the North Dakota Class B, Region 1 girls basketball semifinals.

“I think we lost our composure a little bit,” said Geffre, who ended with seven points, four assists, two steals and four blocks. “We let them come back, which we shouldn’t have done.”

Hankinson (21-3) has a chance to defend its region championship at 7:40 p.m. Thursday against Central Cass. Hankinson beat Central Cass 61-43 in last year’s region title game.

The Squirrels (21-3) beat Fairmount-Campbell-Tintah 51-39 in Tuesday’s other region semifinal.

“It means the world to the girls to have another chance at it,” Central Cass head coach Barb Kraft said. “We have four seniors who have worked really hard.”

Hankinson, which led by 16 points to start the fourth quarter, held on despite making just 5 of 21 (24 percent) free throws in the second half. At one point, the Pirates missed 12 consecutive foul shots.

Hankinson was 0-for-6 from the foul line in the final minute before Geffre sank her two free throws.

“They like to make it interesting,” Hankinson head coach LeAnn Fossum said. “You would think we don’t practice free throws by the way we shot them tonight.”

Jaguars senior Kalai Lundquist hit two free throws with 20 seconds to play to cut Hankinson’s lead to 50-48. That capped a string of 10 straight Northern Cass points.

“For the first time in quite awhile our girls played with a lot of heart,” Northern Cass coach Jodi Zieske said. “They played like they had nothing to lose.”

The Jaguars were called for an intentional foul with 15 seconds to play, giving Hankinson two shots and the ball. The Pirates missed the two free throws for the intentional foul, but Geffre was fouled on the ensuing possession.

Her two makes staked Hankinson to a 52-48 lead with 12 seconds to play. Courtney Titus added a steal and layup with 6 seconds remaining for the final margin.

“It will be nice, being a senior,” Geffre said of having another chance to make the state tournament. “I know last year we surprised a lot of people. This year we were expected to make it back.”

Hankinson 10 30 44 54

Northern Cass 11 17 28 48

HANKINSON (21-3): C. Stein 0 0-0 0, Co. Geffre 2 2-2 7, Co. Titus 6 0-6 15, Wahl 3 1-1 7, Ca. Geffre 6 3-5 16, Ca. Titus 1 0-2 2, L. Stein 3 0-4 6, Pankow 0 1-4 1. Totals 21-53 7-24 54.

NORTHERN CASS (14-11): Holmstrom 2 1-4 5, Olson 8 4-4 21, S. Lako 0 2-5 2, Lundquist 1 10-10 12, As. Lako 3 0-0 6, Am. Lako 0 0-0 0, Ward 0 2-2 2, Nelson 0 0-0 0. Totals 14-46 19-25 48.

3-point goals: Co. Geffre, Co. Titus 3, Ca. Geffre. Total fouls: H 17, NC 23. Fouled out: S. Lako, Am. Lako. Rebounds: H 34 (Ca. Geffre 11), NC 38 (Lundquist 13). Assists: H 13 (C. Geffre 4), NC 9 (S. Lako 6). Steals: H 14 (Co. Titus 4), NC 12 (S. Lako 4). Turnovers: H 19, NC 21.

Central Cass 51, Fairmount-Campbell-Tintah 39

Stingy defense and strong play in the paint sparked the Squirrels to victory.

“Our defense is our bread and butter we like to call it,” said Central Cass sophomore post Taylor Kraft, who scored a game-high 23 points. “All we do is focus on defense and our offense flows from that.”

F-C-T (21-3) lost in the region semifinals for a second consecutive season. Three years ago, the Rebels made the region title game.

“They got up on us right away and we couldn’t come back,” F-C-T coach Jay R. Townsend said. “They were more consistent than us.”

Central Cass took control with a 12-0 run that started late in the first quarter and ended early in the second.

The Squirrels held the Rebels scoreless for nearly five minutes during that stretch. Junior Madison Gegelman capped that momentum-shifting rally.

Her 15-foot jumper with 6 minutes, 27 seconds to play in the first half staked Central Cass to a 16-7 lead.

The Squirrels didn’t trail in the final three quarters. The Rebels got as close as two points, trailing 23-21 at halftime.

However, Central Cass scored the first six points in the second half. The Squirrels also scored the first six points in the fourth quarter after F-C-T cut the lead to 35-31 heading into the final eight minutes.

“We started to gain on them, but they are well-coached, they are a disciplined team and they have a lot of composure,” Townsend said.

The 6-foot Taylor Kraft scored most of her points around the post. She made a number of baskets off a quick move to a slightly fading half-hook shot.

Kraft hit 11 of 21 shots from the field. Freshman reserve Courtney Dixon added 14 points with majority of her points coming on baskets in the lane. Central Cass also held a 36-23 rebounding edge.

“That’s one of the moves I like to do,” Taylor Kraft said of her hook shot. “We were just flowing tonight. That was good.”

F-C-T sophomore Kenzie Church scored a team-high 16 points. Church hit a free throw with 6:14 to play in the second quarter for her 1,000th career point. She needed five points to reach that milestone heading into the game.

F-C-T 7 21 31 39

Central Cass 10 23 35 51

FCT (21-3): J. Campbell 0 0-0 0, K. Campbell 3 3-4 9, Church 5 4-4 16, Luick 3 2-4 8, Kaehler 1 0-0 2, Wik 2 0-0 4, Burlison 0 0-0 0. Totals 14-42 9-12 39.

CENTRAL CASS (21-3): Boeder 0 1-3 1, Sprunk 2 2-2 7, Nesemeier 0 0-2 0, Nelson 1 0-0 2, Kraft 11 1-2 23, Gegelman 1 2-2 4, Dixon 6 2-2 14. Totals 21-47 8-13 51.

3-point goals: Church 2, Sprunk. Total fouls: FCT 14, CC 14. Rebounds: FCT 24 (Luick 11), CC 36 (Kraft 11). Assists: FCT 10 (J. Campbell 3, Luick 3), CC 14 (Boeder 6). Steals: FCT 8 (Church 4), CC 10 (Sprunk 3, Nelson 3). Turnovers: FCT 17, CC 17.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blogs can be found

at www.areavoices.com