FARGO — Looking back on his team’s season, Valley City High School girls basketball coach Jim McDaniel was pleased with how it went.
“I thought it was a great season,” he said, noting the progress the team has made in recent years.
The team ended the season Friday with a 55-44 loss to Fargo Davies in the Eastern Dakota Conference regional tournament at the Fargo Civic Center. McDaniel said it was the first time the Hi-Liners advanced past the play-in game in nearly seven years.
“Our program is moving in the right direction,” he said.
Early on, it even seemed like the Hi-Liners would be in contention for a state tournament spot.
Problem was that after a quick start, Valley City fizzled in the second half.
Neither team started the game particularly well. Davies had the first two points of the game on a long shot by Jami Larson.
But once Valley City got going in the half, the Hi-Liners were hard to stop. Jenna Jacob effectively moved the ball into the paint with 15:56 left in the first half for the Hi-Liners first points.
It kicked off a 12-2 run over the next four and a half minutes that was based around her, Allyson Suhr and Dierra Diegel, who started in place of Mariah Olstad.
The Hi-Liners held the lead into the second half and got it as high as 26-13 with 3:58 left in the half after a 3-pointer by Megan McDaniel. The Hi-Liners also thrived on a lack of missed shots by the Eagles.
It wasn’t until late in the half that Davies made a comeback run, scoring nine points in the final three and a half minutes to narrow Valley City’s lead to 26-22 at halftime.
But those four minutes weren’t the Hi-Liners’ only struggle.
The team went cold shooting and started turning the ball over.
After McDaniel’s 3-pointer with four minutes in the first half, the Hi-Liners didn’t score again until a free throw by Clarissa Olson five minutes into the second half, and didn’t get a shot from the field until eight minutes into the second half when Diegel put it a layup.
“They went on a roll and we just couldn’t regroup,” Jim McDaniel said.
He blamed it on turnovers due to a half-court trap that resulted in numerous passes that went too long down the court.
“Turnovers were down until the very end of the (first) half and we started off the (second) half with too many turnovers,” McDaniel said.
Plus, the Hi-Liners struggled to get rebounds defensively, and Davies finished the game with 26 offensive boards.
Valley City got a short run, ended on a layup by Suhr, that narrowed Davies’ lead to 39-37 with 5:52 left.
Valley City then got cold, Davies heated up again, and the Hi-Liners were down 55-37 with 1:15 left.
Valley City had only one player, Diegel, finish in double digits in scoring. Diegel had 12 points and has 12 rebounds. Freshman Clarissa Olson was second in scoring with nine points and four assists.
Davies was led by Lexi Bolstad with 13 points, Brook Hildre had 11 and Jasmine Moffett had 10.
The Eagles eventually got one of the EDC’s four state tournament berths with a 55-38 win over Grand Forks Red River.
The other state qualifiers were Grand Forks Central, who beat Fargo South 58-49 Saturday, West Fargo, who beat the Hi-Liners Thursday, and Fargo Shanley.
West Fargo won the EDC championship game 67-57 over Shanley.
EDC boys tourney
Fargo Shanley beat Grand Forks Red River 71-58 Saturday to win the EDC boys basketball championship.
In addition to Shanley and Red River, West Fargo and Wahpeton won games to clinch spots in the state tournament.