Maple Valley girls keep hopes up despite loss to Kindred

FARGO — It's always hard to tell how a team will take a loss, especially a large one.
But Maple Valley High School girls basketball coach Jeff Miller didn't notice his team getting too down after Saturday's 75-37 loss to Kindred in the semifinals of the Class B District 2 tournament at the Fargo Civic Center.
"These girls are pretty resilient," he said. "They'll shrug it off. They've already shrugged it off."
Sure, it was nearly 40 points, but it was also to the undefeated top seed of the tournament and a team ranked No. 2 in the final Class B basketball poll by the North Dakota Associated Press Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
Not to mention, the Raiders hopes at making it into the regional tournament are still alive. All they need to do is beat Richland in a regional qualifying game at 6 p.m. tonight.
But Saturday wasn't the prettiest game the team's had all season. Right from the opening minutes, the Raiders fell victim to a constant full-court press, which resulted in numerous turnovers and easy points for Kindred junior Kellie Schmit, who had eight points in the first quarter and later led her team with 26 total.
The Raiders tried answering back with points from Rylee Nudell in the paint, but the rest of the Raiders' offense struggled to get going. Katie Pautz hit a midrange jumper midway through the quarter and Cassie Pautz eventually connected on a 3-pointer with three seconds left in the quarter, but the Raiders were down 17-11 at the first break.
Within the first two minutes of the second quarter, Nudell hit a midrange jumper and hit a free throw to finish a 3-point play after being fouled on a layup to narrow Kidred's lead to 18-16 with 6:15 left.
That was as close as it got. With 5:35 left, Kindred's Casey Allmaras hit a 3-pointer to make it 21-16, and within two more minutes the lead was up to 27-16.
The problem was largely a combination of the Vikings' size and their full court pressure defense.
Kindred's shortest starter was 5-foot-7-inch Brooke Graff, compared to Maple Valley's 5-foot-2-inch Abbie Tinjum. Throw in a few girls above 5-foot-10, and the Raiders were consistently stifled simply by the height alone.
It resulted in plenty of moments where a shorter player such as Tinjum took the ball up court, ran into a wall of defenders and simply couldn't do anything. It was a problem that caused turnovers near midcourt, missed shots down low and gave players like Schmit a large advantage in rebounding.
"They're undefeated for a reason," Miller said. "They're undefeated because they play basketball hard and they play it well."
The Raiders scored only one more point the rest of the half, on a free throw by Nudell, and were limited to five points in the third quarter. They were outscored 48-11 in the middle two quarters.
Schmit's 26 led her team, though the Vikings also had 10 points each from Allmaras and Braidy Dahl.
Nudell led Maple Valley with 17 points and Cassie Pautz had eight.
Miller said he was realistic with his team before the game and knew it could be tough.
"We weren't going into this thinking we had a great shot at beating them," Miller said. "If we did, great, if we didn't, we're still alive."
Instead, the team is hoping to regroup in time for tonight's game with Richland, a rematch of a 41-40 win for the Raiders in December.
"We haven't lost two games in a row yet, so we're going to try to keep that trend going," Miller said.
LMM, BCN playing for regional berth
At least one local school will make it to a Class B regional tournament
The Litchville-Marion/Montpelier and Barnes County North girls basketball teams play at 4:30 p.m. in a regional qualifying game at the Class B District 5 tournament in Jamestown.
LMM lost its only game of the tournament Friday to LaMoure, but received a bye in the second round to advance to the regional game.
BCN beat Central Prairie in the first round, but lost to Pingree-Buchanan-Kensal Saturday in the semifinals.
BCN beat the Rebels 61-36 earlier this month.
VCHS girls advance, boys end season
The Valley City High School girls kept their season alive with a 69-65 win over Devils Lake Saturday in an Eastern Dakota Conference tournament play-in game.
It was the team's second game against Devils Lake last week and sets the Hi-Liners up for a third game this season against West Fargo, who beat the Hi-Liners 69-56 in January and 53-33 in December.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday in West Fargo.
The Hi-Liner boys ended their season with a 54-46 loss at Grand Forks Central in an EDC play-in game.
The Hi-Liners finished the season with only three wins, none against a Class A opponent.