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Lady Cougars reach Valley 5th-place game

CALEDONIA – The fifth-place finals in the Valley basketball tournament have been set following the completion of four elimination games on Thursday.

The Kingston girls played a strong third quarter to advance past Lesterville and improve upon their No. 8 seed. The Valley girls were eliminated along with the Kingston and Bismarck boys.

GIRLS CONSOLATION

Kingston 53, Lesterville 40

Junior forward Taylor Wallace successfully attacked the basket throughout the second half, and Kingston intensified its defensive effort to outlast fourth-seeded Lesterville 53-40 in a bracket upset.

The Lady Cougars (1-1) forced 25 turnovers while making 14-of-29 free throws in a foul-plagued contest, and will face tournament newcomer Meadow Heights on Saturday.

Wallace compiled 23 of her game-high 29 points after the intermission, and made a putback late in the third to produce the largest spread of the evening at 37-22.

Kingston seized command of the action with an 11-0 run out of halftime, sparked by pressure as guards Danielle Morrison and Selena Eckhoff each made three steals within a six-minute span.

Wallace followed a steal and layup by Morrison with two free throws to make it 32-18. She went on to record 10 field goals in the second half.

Lesterville made its closest approach at 47-38 on a late transition layup by freshman Abby Robbs, but Kingston answered with a 3-point play by Eckhoff.

Morrison put the Lady Cougars ahead 17-15 on a baseline drive in the second quarter, and finished with eight points while teammate Taylor Farris collected 10 rebounds.

Freshman guard Elizabeth Ratliff paced Lesterville with 16 points while Arcadia Valley transfer Devin Fitzgerald totaled 14 points with 14 rebounds. Robbs added eight points and 12 rebounds.

The first quarter concluded with a 9-9 after Ratliff drained a 3-pointer for the Lady Bearcats. It marked the fourth tie within the opening eight minutes.

Meadow Heights 63, Valley 47

The second girls’ consolation game remained close between Meadow Heights and host Valley until an enormous momentum swing created a decisive result.

Senior guard Kiana Hotop erupted for 18 of her 27 points in the fourth quarter, and sank eight straight free throws inside the final two minutes to help Meadow Heights prevail 63-47.

The seventh-seeded Panthers emerged from a shooting slump to outscore Valley 41-14 over the last 13 minutes of the game as the young Lady Vikings simply struggled to finish.

Erica Richmond pulled down 15 rebounds and completed a double-double for Meadow Heights while matching Emma Cook with 10 points each.

Valley (1-1) opened the third quarter strong. Crisp passing set up two consecutive baskets by Lacey Yount for a 33-22 advantage after sophomore classmate Lauryn Gallaher drilled a 3-pointer.

But Meadow Heights closed the period on a 12-2 run. Richmond netted a conventional 3-point play on a third chance in the paint, and Kylee Whitener’s corner triple trimmed the margin to 35-34.

Hotop heated up instantly with a go-ahead 20-footer from straight away, and granted the Panthers a safe 51-43 lead on a tough runner while drawing a foul.

Gallaher posted 20 points and 11 rebounds to spur Valley. She opened the second quarter with back-to-back threes, and the Lady Vikings carried a 25-20 lead into halftime.

Meadow Heights committed just one turnover in the first eight minutes, and led 14-9 when Cook netted a 3-point play in transition with one second on the clock.

Yount finished with 14 points and Lexie Black chipped in seven for the Lady Vikings, who earlier fell to Bismarck on a last-second basket in the first round.

BOYS CONSOLATION

Bunker 51, Kingston 50

Junior Dayton Shepard represented a difficult match-up for Bunker defenders, and sparked a double-digit comeback by Kingston in the fourth quarter.

But a brutal third stanza ultimately put the Cougars in jeopardy, and eighth-seeded Bunker sprang a 51-50 upset after making three crucial stops within the final minute.

Freshman Ethan Martin hit two free throws with 1:15 remaining for the game’s final points, but Bunker clanked two from the line during its final possession.

Kingston (0-2) squandered its first chance to regain the lead on an errant pass, then missed along the low block after trapping the Eagles into a sideline turnover.

Shepard, who notched game highs with 29 points and 12 rebounds, left a desperation 25-footer short as time expired after the Cougars called a timeout with 7.4 seconds to play.

Logan Stluka headlined a balanced scoring effort with 14 points in the victory. He banked in a leaner and beat Kingston in transition moments later to hand Bunker a 46-36 advantage with 4:41 to play.

Shepard fueled a Kingston 12-1 in response. He attacked the rim for a pair of field goals, and swished his second 3-pointer during that stretch as the Cougars jumped in front 50-49.

Martin capitalized after drawing a foul moments later, and the Eagles held on. He finished with 13 points and eight rebounds while Daniel Callahan scored 11.

Deavon Coleman added eight points for Kingston, which surged to an 18-8 lead on consecutive driving layups from Drew Boyer and was up 28-24 at halftime.

Bunker rallied by holding the Cougars to one field goal while outscoring them 10-3 in a sluggish third period. Kingston more than doubled its turnover count with seven in a six-minute stretch.

The Eagles advanced to face Lesterville in Saturday’s consolation final.

Lesterville 53, Bismarck 44

Perimeter shots refused to drop through for Bismarck as Lesterville dominated the fourth quarter for a 53-44 victory with each team seeking its initial win of the season.

Freshman Cooper Davis scored half of his game-high 20 points during the final stanza, and senior Dusty McCartney netted 18 points while the Bearcats finished 10-of-15 from the line.

Cody Schafluetzel and Hunter Drake each tallied 11 points in defeat for the Indians, who rarely trailed through the first three quarters of action.

Bismarck sophomore Grant Latham swished a 3-pointer with 6:31 remaining to forge a 37-37 tie, but Lesterville would not surrender a field goal over the next five minutes.

The Bearcats prompted a crushing 16-1 run with long jumpers by McCartney and Davis, who extended the spurt with a difficult finish under the rim for a 3-point play.

B.J. Mathes added a key putback before the separation reached double digits, and Lesterville made two layups on fast breaks for a 53-38 cushion.

Schafluetzel converted an offensive rebound into a 3-point play before Owen Freeman answered from the perimeter to open the game. The first quarter was tied on four occasions.

Halftime passed with an even count at 22-22. Bismarck jumped in front 30-24 after Drake and Preston Watson connected from long range.

Watson and Latham had eight points each for the Indians.

Kingston junior Taylor Wallace (22) scores on an aggressive drive against Lesterville in the third quarter.

Kingston junior Taylor Wallace (22) scores on an aggressive drive against Lesterville in the third quarter.

Bismarck senior Cody Schafluetzel (25) corrals an offensive rebound against Lesterville, leading to a 3-point play in the opening minute.

Bismarck senior Cody Schafluetzel (25) corrals an offensive rebound against Lesterville, leading to a 3-point play in the opening minute.

Valley sophomore Lacey Yount (22) uses inside position to deflect a rebound away from Meadow Heights center Erica Richmond.

Valley sophomore Lacey Yount (22) uses inside position to deflect a rebound away from Meadow Heights center Erica Richmond.

Kingston junior Dayton Shepard (24) steals a bounce pass before scoring a transition layup in the second quarter against Bunker.

Kingston junior Dayton Shepard (24) steals a bounce pass before scoring a transition layup in the second quarter against Bunker.

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