Miller Nudges Lady Tigers for Region 6A Title
By Jay Davis
The folks down Miller way have been waiting to find out what it’s like to beat the Lady Tigers in a region championship and earn a trip to a state tournament. The Lady Rustlers and their fans finally got their wish when Miller defeated Mobridge-Pollock 55-50 in the Region 6A championship game in Gettysburg on Friday.
“It was a hard-fought game,” said coach Katie Konold. “Miller made better decisions at the right time to earn the win. I am very proud of the Lady Tigers and their season. It was nice to see them playing their best basketball this postseason.”
A strong second half put the Lady Tigers in position to pull off an upset over the Miller team that had beaten them by seven points in Mobridge in early January.
“We did a good job pressing and causing turnovers,” said Konold. “And we really improved our transition scoring in the second half.”
The Lady Tigers trailed by four at the half and by as much as six in the third quarter before fighting their way back. Kylee Kettering scored four straight points to pull the Lady Tigers to within one point at 31-30 with two minutes left in the third quarter.
With six seconds left in the quarter, Cass Ulmer hit a 10-footer from the angle to tie the game at 35-35. The basket was the 1,000th point of Ulmer’s career.
Katie Heil heated up with three straight hoops to start the fourth quarter. Her third baseline jumper gave the Lady Tigers a 42-41 lead with 5:05 to play. The Lady Tigers took a 48-47 lead with 1:58 to play when Michelle McClellan made one free throw and missed the second, but rebounded her own miss and drove to the basket for an unconventional three-point play.
The lead would not hold up as Miller’s Jamie Mentzer tied the game with a free throw and then stole the ball for a go-ahead layup with one minute remaining. After another Mobridge-Pollock turnover, Mallory Fischer made two free throws to lift the Miller lead to 52-48. It was a lead the Rustlers would not give up over the final 44 seconds.
The Lady Tigers struggled offensively early in the game, but stayed within striking distance by playing tough defense and forcing Miller to foul a lot in the second quarter. Missing seven free throws in the second quarter did not help the Lady Tigers’ cause, however, when they had the Rustlers in foul trouble.
“We started with 12 unforced turnovers,” said Konold, “but we were able to get to the free throw line and get them into some early foul trouble. Unfortunately we weren’t able to make a big enough run going into halftime.”
Ulmer not only scored her 1,000th point in the game, the Lady Tiger senior finished her career by dominating both ends of the court with game-high totals of 22 points and nine rebounds.
“Cass ended her career with an excellent game,” said Konold.
Kettering finished with 10 points, seven rebounds, three steals and two assists. Heil added eight points and six boards. McClellan scored five points.
“All of our seniors contributed to the success of this season and seasons past,” said Konold.
While they did not get to realize their dreams in their final season, the seniors on the Lady Tigers squad go out as three-time district and two-time region champions.
Alexis Watts led Miller with 16 points. Fischer finished with 13. The duo combined to hit 12 of 14 free throws. Jansen Hunter contributed nine points and six rebounds.
Miller heads to the State A Basketball Tournament with a 20-2 record and a 13-game winning streak.
Mobridge-Pollock (15-8) 5 18 35 50
Miller (20-2) 7 22 35 55
Mobridge-Pollock: Michelle McClellan 2 1-2 5, Cass Ulmer 7 7-10 22, Kylee Kettering 2 6-10 10, Katie Heil 4 0-1 8, Kady Pinney 1 1-4 3, Krista Ulmer 0 2-4 2, Totals 16 17-31 50.
Miller: Hallie Fulton 1 0-0 2, Tara Parmely 3 0-0 6, Alexis Watts 5 6-8 16, Mallory Fischer 3 6-6 13, Jansen Hunter 4 1-5 9, Kristen Peterka 2 0-1 4, Jamie Mentzer 2 1-6 5, Totals 20 14-26 55.
3-point field goals: Mobridge-Pollock 1 (Ulmer); Miller 1 (Fischer). Rebounds: Mobridge-Pollock 30 (Ulmer 9, Kettering 7); Miller 30 (Hunter 6). Assists: Mobridge-Pollock 7 (McClellan 2, Kettering 2); Miller 15. Steals: Mobridge-Pollock 11 (Ulmer 3, Kettering 3); Miller 15. Total fouls: Mobridge-Pollock 21 (Kettering out); Miller 23 (Parmely out). Turnovers: Mobridge-Pollock 18; Miller 20.