For the first game of the season, it had the feel and intensity of a playoff game. Wahpeton guard Lachelle Bumgarner shot the lights out with 38 points, but Valley City didn't back down. Four Hi-Liners scored in double digits as Valley City escaped with a 83-78 road win Saturday afternoon in double overtime.
" It would have been a long week to lose tonight, especially a game like this. This is a huge boost," Valley City coach Jim McDaniel said. "(It was) a very exciting game. I wasn't expecting to go a couple of overtimes."
Wahpeton dashed out to an 8-0 lead, but it was a jumpy start for both teams, feeling things out in their respective season-openers. Behind a tremendous scoring balance, Valley City spread Wahpetonâ€™s defense, found open spots on the floor and usually made shots.
"Offensively we're always trying to get a good balance from everybody. We want them all to hit shots and be a threat," McDaniel said.
Wahpeton, conversely, missed its open looks and trailed by seven at halftime, 29-22.
The Huskies climbed back into the lead early into the second half thanks to the play of eighth-grader Tylee Irwin, who drove hard to the block again and again, exploiting a defensive mismatch. Irwin finished with 17 points.
Valley City stayed true, however, matching Wahpeton play-for-play. A late 9-1 run looked like a path to victory, but the Huskies forced turnovers and made key shots, sending the game to overtime at 59-59.
Valley Cityâ€™s Jessica Denholm stood out in the first overtime period, knocking down a pair of threes and going on to a team-high 20 points.
"She a good shooter and is strong with the ball," McDaniel said of Denholm. "She's hard to defend because she can take the ball to the basket and is a good perimeter shooter, too."
But she was equaled by Bumgarner, who was fearless with the ball. Down 71-68 with the seconds slipping away, Bumgarner stepped into a 3-pointer and swished it as the buzzer sounded.
â€śLachelle was ready to play. She played well and hit some big, big shots. She really didnâ€™t force anything,â€ť Wahpeton coach Brian Watson said.
Unfazed , Valley City responded in the second overtime and put the game away. Caleigh Differding and Irwin came up with big plays for Wahpeton, but it wasnâ€™t enough as the Hi-Linersâ€™ Clarissa Olsen calmly sank several baskets. A late Wahpeton turnover sealed the game as Valley City won by five. Olsen finished with 15 points.
"Luckily we were able to hit free throws and get enough of a cushion that a three wouldn't be enough," McDaniel said.
Dierra Diegel and Mariah Olstad also played big roles for Valley City, scoring 15 and 14 points, respectively.
Valley City (1-0) has more than a full week to prepare for its next game, hosting Maple Valley Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m.