After 18 consecutive victories, the West Fargo girls basketball team lost its first game in the final game of the regular season, falling to the Fargo Davies Eagles 67-55.
The team found themselves in a 15-point hole at halftime after shooting 30 percent (6-for-20) from the field. Davies, on the other hand, shot roughly 70 percent in the same amount of time.
“They really shot the lights out,” head coach Barb Metcalf said. “We dug ourselves a big hole, but we’ve been down a halftime before by 10 or 12. They were playing well at the right time. They had a good game plan and they executed.”
The Packers came out of halftime and started a dramatic comeback, thanks to seniors Shelby Gustafson and Cassidy Thorson and sophomore Kennedi Sand, who combined for 25 of the team’s 32 second-half points.
The team was within striking distance with just a few minutes left when Davies senior Kinsey Papachek made a 3-pointer at the shot clock buzzer to quell the Packers’ momentum.
“The kids could have quit, and they didn’t,” Metcalf said. “They kept plugging away and kept it interesting. They came out with a little more fire, and I thought our defense was a lot better.”
Gustafson led the team with 18 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks. She also made 11 of her 13 free-throw attempts.
Thorson was close behind, scoring 15 points and making six of eight free throws.
As a team, the Packers shot 71 percent from the line in that game and 70 percent on the season, a trait that, according to Metcalf, will get the team “over the hump” in close games.
Despite the loss, the Packers still claimed Eastern Dakota Conference’s top seed, and ended the regular season with the best record in the state.
The end to the Packers’ winning streak may have been a wake-up call, according to their coach.
“It was a good dose of reality,” Metcalf said. “We still have to work, and we still have to show up to practice. At this time of the year, anything is possible.”
The EDC girls basketball tournament continues on Friday and Saturday.