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Red River basketball splits girls/boys double-header with Minot

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GRAND FORKS - Three-point shooting kept Minot close Saturday. But it was Maggie Steffen's clutch 3-point basket that clinched a win for Grand Forks Red River.

Steffen's field goal from the baseline with 1:21 remaining gave the Roughriders a 57-51 lead en route to a 61-54 victory in the girls high school basketball season opener for both teams at Red River High School.

Minot made nine treys in the game compared to the Roughriders' three. But Steffen's first 3-pointer of the game gave Red River some breathing room in a game it led from start to finish.

"That (3-point shooting) is probably one of my strengths,'' the senior said. "I hadn't hit one all day. I was iffy taking that shot. But I figured one would go down. I felt confident.''

Said Red River coach Kent Ripplinger: "That was a really big shot. We were in a bit of panic mode. But we came out of a timeout, ran our offense, got the ball to a veteran senior and Maggie took a good shot. Fortunately, it went in.''

Steffen's shot started a game-closing 7-3 run, with Shelby Frank scoring from close range and Jadyn Sondrol hitting a pair of free throws.

Minot put up 32 treys, half of its total field-goal attempts.

"We hope (the 3-point shooting) is there every night,'' Minot coach Bernie Wasser said. "We had some good looks in the post. Usually that's a strength for us, but we struggled there. Red River is pretty long. We took what they gave us. That was on the perimeter. Fortunately, we were hitting them.''

Red River never trailed after jumping to a 10-1 lead.

Four times, the Riders built leads ranging from nine to 13 points, only to see Minot cut the deficit to five or fewer points. Minot's last run came when it rallied from a 53-43 deficit with 4:05 left to move to within 54-51 on a Brooke Nelson field goal with 1:54 remaining.

"For a first game, it's not surprising the way it went in spurts,'' Steffen said. "We have to work on being more consistent.''

Sondrol finished with 18 points, Steffen 17 and Frank 12 as the trio dominated Red River's offense.

Becca Tschetter's 20 points led Minot, with Alli McCoy adding 10.

"I thought our inside defense did a great job,'' Ripplinger said. "We are young and inexperienced. We have to get more consistent. We have to get better.''

Defending state champ Minot rolls past Red River

The schedule maker wasn't kind to the Grand Forks Red River boys basketball team.

The Roughriders drew Minot for their high school season opener Saturday. The three-time defending Class A state champion Magicians picked up where they left off last season, rolling to a 93-36 win against the inexperienced Roughriders.

Roughriders coach Kirby Krefting takes credit (or blame) for drawing Minot in its opener. "Three years ago we set it up to play them first. We don't match up with them as well as we did in the past,'' said Krefting, whose team was without its lone returning starter, Jordan Polynice (two-game suspension for school misconduct violation), from a year ago.

"We knew it would be a tough task because of our inexperience. We knew we'd play a lot of guys, and that those guys would play hard. We did that. We saw a lot of things that, at times, looked good. We saw a lot of things we need to work on. We'll use this as a learning tool.''

Minot, on the other hand, returns two starters and two of the top reserves from last season's state championship team.

The Magicians rolled with their defense in the first half and their long-range shooting in the second half.

Minot built a 48-19 lead at halftime, scoring 26 points off turnovers as Red River struggled against the Magicians' pressure defense. Minot hit nine 3-point shots to account for 27 of its 45 second-half points.

"We didn't do a great job moving the ball (in the first half), but we got going in transition. We got some turnovers and ran,'' said Magicians coach Dean Winczewski, a former Red River assistant basketball coach (1998-99 season). "In the second half, we did a better job of moving the ball and finding open shooters. We feel shooting is one of our strengths.

"We were a little sloppy at times. There are things we have to clean up on. But I loved our effort.''

Chandler Albertson had 20 points and Devin Mikell 17 to lead an offense that saw Minot have five players score in double figures.

"We didn't rotate as well defensively in the second half,'' Krefting said. "We gave them too many open looks. They moved the ball well.''

Pierson Painter scored 11 to lead the Roughriders.