HILL CITY | Even without their leading scorer, the St. Thomas More express kept chugging along without a hitch.
Ciara Duffy had 15 points to lead four Cavaliers in double figures and More got out and throttled Hill City early, opening up a 28- point halftime lead as they cruised to a 59-18 victory on Monday night.
With sophomore Alexys Swedlund sidelined by the flu, the rest of her teammates made her absence almost unnoticeable, as More had a 19-point first quarter and scored 39 in the first half.
“There’s some young girls that can step up and fill some roles, and that was a great chance for them to get in tonight and get some time that maybe they haven’t seen as much of this year,” More head coach Brandon Kandolin said. “I thought everybody stepped up and played well. Overall, I just thought it was a great team effort.”
Duffy scored 13 of her 15 in the first half to spark the Cavs. Kennedy Kirsch scored 12 points off the bench, Madison Kirsch added 11 points and Moira Duffy chipped in 10 points.
“I think our team chemistry,” Madison Kirsch said of the offensive success without Swedlund. “We all play well together, even if one person is out. We have people that can come in off the bench and do the same job and help us out.”
The Cavs (18-1) won their seventh straight game in part due to a decided advantage on the glass. More outrebounded Hill City 33-18, with Moira Duffy grabbing 13 of those to notch a double-double.
“(Moira) got some offensive boards and we were able to either draw the foul or get some put backs,” Kandolin said. “She worked hard, controlled the paint very well, and on the outside we took care of the ball and knocked down the open looks that we had.”
The loss handed Hill City (10-9) its fourth consecutive defeat. Codee Sagdalen was the leading scorer with six points and Kala McDonald added five for the Rangers, who committed 25 turnovers, many leading to quick Cavalier baskets.
“We really focus on defense. Every day in practice we’re busting our butts and working on defense,” Kirsch said. “That’s really what we focus on and that’s what we’re going to need to focus on even more as we go into districts.”
More wasted little time in this one, scoring nine straight points to hold an 11-2 lead early on. Following a Kirsch jumper, Moira hit Ciara Duffy inside, and after two More free throws amid a Sagdalen basket, Moira Duffy’s put back gave her seven first-quarter rebounds and the Cavs a 19-5 lead heading into the second.
More scored the first seven points of the quarter before Hill City hit a 6-0 run, punctuated by Karly Dehn’s basket, to make it 26-11.
But the Cavs did not let Hill City get closer, scoring the final 11 points of the half, and Madison Kirsch’s bucket right before the buzzer off a steal from Ciara Duffy made it 39-11 at half.
More put it away right away in the second half, going on a 12-0 run and held a 51-11 lead.
Both teams close out the regular season this week, with More hosting Belle Fourche Thursday for their finale while Hill City hosts Wall on Friday.