Feb. 24—With the chance of being 3-peat regional champs in sight, and with the help of seniors Samantha Oase and Bailee Pierce, Hettinger-Scranton played like a team on a solid mission against Mott-Regent. The Night Hawks held nothing back and proved why they are the top seeded team in the region.
The Night Hawks converted on 48.9% of its overall scoring attempts compared to the Wildfire's 36.7%, and shot lights out from behind the 3-point line by draining seven of its 13 attempts from the deep ball to earn a 62-49 win to advance to the semifinals of the Class B Region 7 tournament.
"I'm really happy with how we played defensively at times," Night Hawks Head Coach Kelly Pierce said. "Just a total team win."
For Oase, the 6-foot-1-inch senior seemingly hovered over the Wildfire's smaller roster, its tallest players both being labeled 5-foot-9-inches, making it easy to snatch rebounds and score inside the post. Oase finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds in the contest with 73% shooting and draining six of her 10 attempts at the free throw line.
Even so, Oase was put in foul trouble early in the second half, her fourth foul being dealt in the early minutes of the third quarter, allowing for Mott-Regent to outscore its opponents 13-11 in the third to lower the deficit back to 10 after being down by 19. Nevertheless, Pierce's ability to run the offense kept the Night Hawks focused on making the best plays on the court and with the return of Oase in the final quarter, the team outscored Mott-Regent 18-16 to seize the 13-point victory.
Pierce finished the afternoon with 15 points, five assists and four rebounds.
"Just a really close knit group, when things get tough they usually buckle down and come together and do what we need them to do," Pierce said. "We had to rely on (Pierce) a little bit with some of that. She's started in the state tournament twice so there's no event that is going to be too big for her."
For Sara Siedler, the head coach of the Wildfire, the loss was tough, but she gave credit to her young team that ended its season with a 10-10 record.
"They just work hard for me all the time, you don't have to ask them to push until the final buzzer because they're just the hustling team," Siedler said. "They really went through a lot this year, had to overcome a lot of obstacles, but the girls have gotten a lot stronger from it and you can tell from our team chemistry."
Fortunately, the Wildifre's roster did not feature any upcoming graduates in the spring, allowing for them to use this season as a learning opportunity for next season.
"I feel that this was huge, just our season in general," she said. "Playing through a lot of tough games, playing some overtime games, I told the girls its adding to their resume. It's just something that is going to make us even better next year.
Siedler added, "it's nice that we made it to the regional tournament because now they know the atmosphere and it's something we want to get back to. We're excited to put the work in during the offseason and come back even stronger next season."
Hettinger-Scranton will play Bowman County on Tuesday at 5 p.m. The winner of that game will advance to the regional championship on Thursday.