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Greg DeVillers / Forum Communications Co., Published March 17 2012

Grafton wins first ND Class B state girls basketball title

BISMARCK – This one was a long time coming for Grafton.

The Spoilers claimed their first North Dakota Class B girls basketball championship Saturday night. The Spoilers’ defense dominated and their offense clicked as they ran to a 76-54 win against Linton-Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock.

Not only is it Grafton’s first Class B girls state basketball title, but it is the Spoilers’ first appearance in the tournament. And it came after a string of near-misses – in the previous four seasons, Grafton lost twice in the Region 2 championship game, and two other times in the region semifinals. The rule was close setbacks.

“It’s been a road, a long journey, for these kids,” said the Spoilers’ Laurie Sieben, the Class B coach of the year. “They’ve been on the heartbreak side at tournament time. I think those losses made them hungrier.

“It’s a group that hasn’t been satisfied. They’ve worked hard in the offseason. This is the game they’ve worked to put themselves in. They’ve earned this. I think they’ll appreciate this even more after all they’ve been through.”

Senior Brooke Gaustad, a fifth-year varsity player, has been on all those disappointing endings.

“It wasn’t fun to lose those games,” Gaustad said. “But now, to win state, this is the best feeling ever, so awesome.”

Grafton took control early, dominating the first half. The Spoilers led 23-9 after one quarter and 41-15 at intermission.

Linton-HMB had 17 first-half turnovers, 12 of those on Grafton steals. The Spoilers converted those possessions into 21 points. By contrast, Linton-HMB had only two points off Grafton first-half miscues. Grafton finished the game with 30 points off the Lady Lions’ 23 turnovers.

“We came out strong, and defense is our strength,” Spoilers senior Samantha DeSautel said. “We were all on track.”

Grafton closed the first quarter on a 14-2 run, started by back-to-back 3-pointers by Hanna Thompson, who was chosen the tournament’s most valuable player.

Then, after Linton-HMB opened the second quarter with a field goal, Grafton went on a 16-2 run, with 12 of those points coming off turnovers.

“Their full-court pressure caused us to make some bad decisions,” Linton-HMB coach Pat Gerving said. “They work well (defensively) as a unit – they’re a great defensive team, quick and physical. We knew a key to the game was to not give up easy buckets off turnovers. And it put us in a bad hole.”

Grafton was never challenged in the second half. The Spoilers maintained a lead ranging from 20 to 32 points the entire final 16 minutes.

For Grafton, the performance ranked with its best of the season.

“We were average in the first two games here,” Sieben said. “We felt we could do better. But that first half, that was outstanding. Our defensive pressure and rebounding was huge.”

LHMB 9 15 35 54

G 23 41 59 76

LHMB: Flyberg 13, Schneider 12, Weber 9, Larson 7, Gerving 3, Am. Umber 3, Al. Umber 3, Nieuwsma 2, Beck 2.

G: Thompson 23, DeSautel 13, Thompson 13, Gaustad 9, McMartin 8, Feltman 4, A. Burns 4, J. Burns 2, Jiskra 1.

3-pointers: LHMB 6 (Flyberg 3, W. Gerving 1, Am. Umber 1, Al. Umber 1), G 7 (H. Thompson 5, Gaustad 1, Burns 1). Total fouls: LHMB 12, G 15. Rebounds: LHMB 26 (Schneider 9), G 24 (C. Thompson 5, Gaustad 5). Assists: LHMB 12 (W. Gerving 3, Al. Umber 3, Schneider 3), G 18 (DeSautel 6). Steals: LHMB 7 (seven with 1), G 16 (C. Thompson 4). Turnovers: LHMB 23, G 12.

All-tournament team

Hanna Thompson, Grafton (unanimous); Fallyn Freije, Lakota/Adams-Edmore (unanimous); Kalyn Schneider, Linton-Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock (unanimous); Hannah Stewart, Minot Ryan (unanimous); Paige Emmel, Shiloh Christian; Hailee Farstveet, Beach; Samantha DeSautel, Grafton; Brooke Graff, Kindred; Robin Weber, Linton-Hazelton-Moffit-Braddock; Ashtin Freije, Lakota/Adams-Edmore.

Tournament MVP: Hannah Thompson, Grafton.

Senior Athlete of the Year: Sierra Rosenau, Carrington.

Coach of the Year: Laurie Sieben, Grafton.

DeVillers writes for the Grand Forks Herald

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