RED CLOUD – In a game that was tied 12 times, it was Red Cloud that hung on for the 47-46 win over the Hot Springs Lady Bison in the first round of the District 15A tournament last Monday night.
The game was tied at 44-all when host Red Cloud went up by three points late in the game. Hot Springs went the length of the court in the final seconds, kicking the ball out to Angela Merrill, who hit the shot. However, it was inside the three-point arc, allowing the Crusaders the one-point win.
“We drew up a play to get our shooters in position, and it worked, but our catch and shoot was just inside the three-point line,” Hot Springs head coach Levi Klippenstein said of the last play in the game.
The close finish on the road was a far different outcome than what happened just three days prior when the Lady Bison hosted the Lady Crusaders in the two team’s final regular season game on Feb. 17, which saw Red Cloud win in a romp, 71-38.
“We did everything we could to prepare to put ourselves in a position to win,” said Klippenstein. “Our defense gave up 10 fewer 3-pointers than we did just three nights before. We talked a lot about guarding the three-point line better and making them try to beat us off the dribble. The plan worked great in the first half when the girls held Red Cloud to 18 first-half points.”
Red Cloud was led by Samantha Weston with a double-double, including 11 points and 11 rebounds.
“Offensively we didn't have much continuity in the first half, but we were doing well enough to lead 22-18 at half time,” Klippenstein said. “We came out of the locker room flat and only scored two points in the third quarter, so in the fourth quarter we had to go to a little bit of a press to get back into the game and, to the girls' credit, we were able to take the lead late in the 4th quarter, which Red Cloud quickly took back.”
The Lady Bison were led by senior Breezy Boldon who ended the night with a game-high 13 points followed by fellow senior Shelby Atwood and junior Mary Ginsbach each with nine points. Merrill added eight with the third senior on the team, Brooke Thompson, putting in four, Jordan Tierney had two and Haley Bilbruck one.
“As has been the case in close games in the second half of the season, our performance from the free throw line (11-for-25) probably cost us a good chance at winning,” Klippenstein said. “This should be a good lesson to the younger girls to spend some time shooting free throws and really working on that part of their game.”
Last Thursday night, Red Cloud went on to defeat Hill City in the District 15A Championship by a score of 64-51, thanks to a career night of scoring by Terra Garnier who put up 21 points in the win. The Lady Crusaders will play St. Thomas More in Spearfish tonight (Tuesday) for the Region 8A Championship, and a ticket to the State Class “A” tournament, also in Spearfish, March 8-10.
Hot Springs finished the season with an 8-12 record overall.
“I can't say enough how proud I am of their effort,” added Klippenstein. “A season is long journey and these girls handled it well.”