Lady Eagles make it to State B Tournament

No. 2 Wall never trailed on its way to a lopsided victory over No. 14 Howard in the Class B SoDak 16 contest. It took full control in the second period.
The Tigers converted on just one field goal attempt and went on a 3 minute and 56 second scoring drought to close out the first half. The Lady Eagles, meanwhile, closed the quarter on a 10-0 run to take a 22-7 lead into the break and never looked back.
Wall limited its opponent to 10 made baskets on the night as it soared to a 50-25 win over the Tigers at the Kadoka Area High School gymnasium. 
“I’ve been working towards this goal since I was a freshman and I am so grateful I got to accomplish it,” senior Ava Dinger said.
The Lady Eagles’ defense set the tone of the game and their trio of Nora Dinger, Ava Dinger and Paige Kjerstad cemented their spot in the state tournament. Nora Dinger led her team with 16 points, Kjerstad added 12 points and Ava Dinger finished with 10 points.
“It’s huge (having those three), and it has been all year,” head coach John Hess said. “It always seemed like if one was struggling, that one the others would pick them up. Usually Paige was our go to at the start and Ava takes over in the second half. It wasn’t that way tonight but it worked out for us.”
Wall (21-2) forced 27 Howard turnovers in the game, including 16 turnovers in the first half. Howard (15-8) finished the game 23.8% from the field on 10 of 42 shooting.
“This is awesome,” Hess said. “It feels really good and I didn’t think that game would go that way, I really didn’t. We did a great job with their bigs, which is where all of their power and scoring came from. To hold a team like that to 25 points, we got after it defensively and I’m proud of the girls.”
In the first quarter, Wall jumped out to a 6-0 lead but Howard pushed back and cut its deficit to 6-5 with 4:55 left in the period. A pair of Nora Dinger free throws gave the Lady Eagles an 8-5 advantage after eight minutes of play.
In the second period, Wall asserted its dominance. It started the frame on a 4-0 run before Howard's Abby Aslesen hit a jumper to cut the score to 12-7 with 3:56 left in the half. But that proved to be the only basket of the frame for the Tigers, who finished the quarter on a scoring drought that lasted almost four minutes. After a 10-0 run, Wall entered the break with a 22-7 lead.
The second half started the way the second quarter ended. Wall stormed out of the break on a 9-0 run to push its lead to 31-7 with 6:00 left in the third quarter and forced Howard to take a timeout.The Eagles never slowed down, despite pleas from Hess on the bench, and rolled to the 50-23 win.
"They won't slow down, and we've wanted to do that all year," Hess said. "It's like telling a race horse to become a plow horse, and you just can't do that."
The Lady Eagles finished the night 42.5% from the field on 20 of 47 shooting.
Wall hopes to carry that momentum into the state tournament when it faces off with a familiar foe Thursday. The Lady Eagles travel to Watertown to play No. 7 Faith (18-5).
The two teams met earlier this season on Jan. 16 in the West River Tournament championship game when Ava Dinger secured a 33-31 victory with a half court buzzer-beater at The Monument Ice Arena.
“We want to show everybody that it’s really all about defense, and you have to push all the way until the end no matter what,” Nora Dinger said.
Tipoff for the rematch between Faith and Wall in the opening round of the state tournament is set for 6:45 p.m. MT Thursday at Watertown Civic Arena.

The Pioneer Review

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