For the Killdeer high school girls’ basketball squad, the 2012-13 season fell short of lofty pre-season hopes and expectations.
By EDDIE HIBBS III
For the Herald
Posted March 22, 2013
For the Killdeer high school girls’ basketball squad, the 2012-13 season fell short of lofty pre-season hopes and expectations. But the Cowgirls were so close, and the future certainly looks bright for head coach Sarah Doe’s program.
At the end of the regular season, the Cowgirls played Dickinson Trinity for the District 14 championship. The Lady Titans won and entered the district tournament as the top seed; Killdeer entered districts as the No. 2 seed.
After receiving a first-round bye, Killdeer was upset by Hazen in the district semifinals, but bounced back to win in the elimination game in the final day of the district tournament – postponed a day because of a winter storm.
At the regional tournament at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center in Dickinson, Killdeer’s season ended as Bowman County erased an eight-point deficit half way through the third quarter to escape with a 62-54 win. The Lady Bulldogs outscored Killdeer 29-13 to end the game.
It was the second time Bowman County rallied late to defeat Killdeer. Foul problems and free throws were crucial in both games. In the playoff contest, Bowman County had a tremendous advantage at the charity stripe, attempting 32 free throws (including 18 in the second half). However, the Lady Bulldogs made only 18 (56 percent). The Cowgirls attempted only six free throws, making three (50 percent).
Sending the Bowman County players to the free-throw line that many times also assisted in sending Killdeer starters to the bench with foul trouble. Fortunately for Killdeer fans, the Cowgirls had a strong bench. The foul trouble, though, also hindered the Killdeer players when they returned to the floor, trying to avoid that fourth or fifth foul.
In the first meeting Feb. 12 in Bowman, poor free throw shooting cost the Cowgirls as the Lady Bulldogs won 53-48. Collectively, Killdeer’s players made only 6-of-14 free throws (42.9) with a number of those misses on the front ends of one-and-ones.
The bulk of the Cowgirls will be back, including junior Morgan LeMieux. LeMieux was one of 13 players selected to the All Region 7 Team.
Killdeer’s only district loss during the regular season was the loss to district champion Dickinson Trinity.
Next year, the Cowgirls should be poised to make even more noise with another year of experience this year’s mostly underclassmen squad. Next year will also feature a new playoff format for District 13 and District 14 – in volleyball, girls’ basketball and boys’ basketball.
This year marks the end of district tournaments to start the playoffs. Starting in the fall of 2013, the two district tournaments will be put on a two-year hiatus and will be replaced by the “super region” tournament. At the end of the two-year experiment, athletic directors from the respective schools will discuss the benefits and disadvantages of the new concept and make a recommendation on the super region tournament to the North Dakota High Schools Activities Association.
The Cowgirls will lose seniors Elizabeth Strommen, Kelsey Knutson, Danielle Cleveland and Hannah Balderas to graduation. In addition to LeMieux, key returners include Ashley Brew, a 5-2 junior and a pesky defender, 5-11 sophomore Jessica Starr, a 3-point specialist, and 5-10 sophomore Keanua Fox. One of the strengths of this year’s squad was the quality on the bench, as noted above, which should also help the Cowgirls in 2013-14. ♦