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 Wahpeton’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 City’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.
“Lachelle was ready to play. She played well and hit some big, big shots. She really didn’t force anything,” 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 wasn’t enough as the Hi-Liners’ 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.