Getting to the SoDak 16 was a giant accomplishment for the Lady Bulldogs and that stat is still worthy of celebration. They rocked all...
Getting to the SoDak 16 was a giant accomplishment for the Lady Bulldogs and that stat is still worthy of celebration. They rocked all year. However, their post-season play began with an uphill battle against a formidable opponent. The Lady Bulldogs faced Goliath, aka Hamlin, in Milbank’s first SoDak 16 appearance since 2017.
The two squared off on Thursday, March 2, at the Watertown Arena. Unfortunately for Milbank, their challenger (now at 22-0) was the only undefeated team in all of South Dakota girls basketball. Plus, the Lady Chargers had recent history that included three consecutive state tourney appearances. Hamlin just missed capturing the crown the last two years and settled for Class A runners-up.
Milbank and Hamlin had locked horns on January 30, and the Lady Chargers must have remembered the Lady Bulldogs’ grit because they showed no mercy in using all their weapons — offensive and defensive and inside and out. They wasted no time either. They got right down to business in their first possession and dinged a 3-pointer.
Milbank trailed by just 11 at the end of the first, but Hamlin was relentless from all over the court and went on an 11-0 run in the early minutes of the second half. Although the final score sat at 60-24, it doesn’t reflect the energy and enthusiasm the Lady Bulldogs poured into the game. If they gave points for heart, the score would have been a lot closer.
Brian Pauli, head coach for Milbank said, “I thought the girls played extremely hard and did a good job following the game plan on defense, but against Hamlin you have to make shots to put pressure on them.” Tony Howard, Eric Townsend, and Kelli Pillatzki served as assistant coaches for the Lady Bulldogs. Isabella Anderson, a sophomore guard and starter for Milbank, put up 11 points and pulled down four rebounds. She added one assist. Tyra Berry, also a sophomore starter, scored six points and secured one rebound. Senior Maurina Street, who typically scores in double figures, and is one of the all-time point-producing Lady Bulldogs, was held to just four points and two rebounds.
Sophomore starter Claire Snaza made a free throw and got her grip on three rebounds. Fellow sophomore Ella Sandvig came off the bench to contribute two points and a rebound. Josie Riveland, also a sophomore, added two rebounds. Senior Emily Jo Wollschlager snapped up one.
Milbank hit 20 percent of their field goals and knocked down nine of their 12 free throw attempts for 75 percent. Overall, Hamlin made just under 44 percent of their shots from the floor. They landed 10 of 13 attempts or 77 percent from the charity stripe.
Kami Wadsworth, Hamlin’s leading scorer, pumped in 18 points. Wadsworth, who intends to play college ball next season, also had three rebounds. Marissa Bawdon hit four of her eight 3-point shots and ended with 14 points. Brooklyn Brandriet hit three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points and three rebounds. Addison Neuendorf scored nine points and added five rebounds and two steals.
What’s next? Class A girls basketball action continues with the state tournament March 9-11 in Watertown. Hamlin plays No.2-rated Wagner (22-1). Sioux Falls Christian (22-2) meets Red Cloud (20-2). Flandreau (19-4) faces Lakota Tech (19-4), and Sisseton (20-2) takes on Rapid City Christian (19-4).
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