Sheyenne girls still go down in history after losing in state quarterfinals
When West Fargo Sheyenne sharpshooter Maggie Manson put up her first shot of the North Dakota Class A state girls basketball tournament, it was blocked by Bismarck Century's Lauren Ware.
Welcome to playing against a 6-foot-4 sophomore center who is already being recruited by Division I schools. Welcome to playing against a Century team that had lost only once. Welcome to playing in your school's first state tournament in the Fargodome—where Sheyenne lost 66-42 to a Century team playing in its 34th state tournament.
Sheyenne went on to take sixth place in the program's first state tournament. The East Region No. 4-seeded Mustangs beat East Region No. 2-seeded Grand Forks Red River 61-37 in the consolation semifinals then lost to East Region No. 1-seeded Fargo Davies 61-48 in the fifth-place game.
"We came in here like we wanted it really bad," senior Kayla Stroh said. "We tried to fight back, but since (Century had) more experience, they knew when they had to do their best and fight the most."
Despite the Mustangs giving Century fits with a trapping, pressing defense in the first half, Century ended up relying on Ware—who had 22 points, 16 rebounds and eight blocks—and junior point guard Lilly Keplin who had 20 points and four rebounds.
"We felt like getting off to a good start was important since it was our very first state tournament," said Sheyenne head coach Brent Hintz. "But to say we have to control those two (Ware and Keplin) and actually do it are two completely different things."
Sheyenne jumped out to a 7-3 lead but trailed at halftime 33-22. Manson, a junior guard who has verbally committed to play at the University of North Dakota, ended up making 5 of 7 3-pointers to score 15 points.
Sheyenne senior Kierra Freih, who will be going to the University of Jamestown and was Sheyenne's first ever 1,000 point scorer, said the Mustangs had plenty of nerves going into their first ever state tournament. After all, the Mustangs didn't have much experience there. Freih said the week leading up to the tournament with media coming to practices, the Mustangs were getting hyped throughout the week.
"Experience has a lot to do with winning games," Freih said. "We have zero in the state tournament. That really was our downfall."
Senior Tara Lewis, a defensive specialist for Sheyenne, said the Mustangs could've put more defensive pressure on the Patriots and tried to go zone against Ware, but the Patriots were too well-rounded.
"We just let the game slip away from us," Lewis said. "If we had dug deeper, we could've pulled it out."
Manson scored a game-high 18 points against Red River and totaled four rebounds, three assists and four steals. Yasmina Dokara added 11 points, seven steals and four rebounds.
Against Davies, the Mustangs held the Eagles to just 18 points in the second half but they let up a 43-25 lead at halftime they couldn't come back from. Manson led the Mustangs with 21 points, four assists, two steals and two blocks.
Despite losing in the first round, Freih said she was proud to have played for the Mustangs. She said she always knew the Mustangs could get to state her senior year.
"We know it's going to happen and we're going to get there," Freih said. "We literally started from the bottom and worked our way up."
Lewis, who plans on going to North Dakota State for exercise science to be a personal trainer, said she feels better prepared for the real world having played basketball.
"I have learned so many life lessons about bouncing back, learning from mistakes and just knowing you can always get better," Lewis said. "We just learned a lot about life and how you can rely on other people."
Freih said her confidence grew and she learned life skills she'll take with her to Jamestown. She says she still plans on coming to Sheyenne games next season and expects the Mustangs to get even further in the postseason.
"That was our biggest dream after all these years was getting to state," Stroh said. "Finally getting here was amazing. ... We finally started a legacy."
Maggie Manson, West Fargo Sheyenne; Alyssa Paper, Fargo Davies; Mattea Vetsch, Devils Lake; Sydney Smith, Bismarck St. Mary's; Courtney Olson, Mandan; Tonya Dvorak, Bismarck St. Mary's; Whitney Thomas, Bismarck Legacy; Kennedy Harris, Mandan; Megan Zander (MVP), Mandan; Lilly Keplin, Bismarck Century; Lauren Ware, Bismarck Century.