Last-second shot dooms Lady Royals

Ray Maloney, Sports

WAHPETON, N.D. — Lake Region State College women’s basketball coach Duane Schwab would be hard-pressed to fault the efforts of his team.

The end result was not what the veteran coach was hoping for, but not for a shot to beat the buzzer, Schwab’s Lady Royals would have secured a home playoff berth as champions of the Mon-Dak Confence.

If.

Instead, sophomore Megan Groen’s 23-foot desperation shot found the net and North Dakota State College of Science eeked out a 70-69 win over Lake Region on Wednesday in the regular season finale for both teams.

NDSCS and Lake Region will meet again on Sunday in Wahpeton in the first round of the playoffs. The winner of that game will travel to Williston March 3 to determine the state champion.

Sophomore Vittoria Poole’s two free throws with 4.9 seconds remaining in the game put the Lady Royals in front 69-67.

Groen took the ensuing inbound pass and heaved a desperation shot the found the net to give the Wildcats the win.

After being tied 4-4 in the early going, NDSCS went on a 10-4 run to take control of the game.

Or so it seemed.

Karis Phillips hit back-to-back 3-pointers for the Wildcats as they scored the first six points of the second half to build a 44-29 advantage.

That is when the Lady Royals began chipping away at the lead.

A layup by Poole midway through the second half brought the two teams into a 50-50 deadlock and capped a 20-6 run by the Lady Royals

Katie Ralston followed with two points of her own to give Lake Region its first lead since Brittany Wirth’s basket gave LRSC a 2-0 advantage to begin the game.

The lead changed hands 10 times after Ralston’s field goal with 9:40 to go. There were two ties during that span.

Mandi Bindas and Wirth both finished in double figures for the Lady Royals, who will take an 18-8 record into Sunday’s playoff game at Wahpeton.

Bindas led the way with 20 points, while Wirth added 16 points of her own. She also led the Lady Royals with eight rebounds as LRSC held a 40-26 rebounding advantage in the game.

LRSC shot just 39 percent (25-64) from the floor in the game and was successful on just two of 15 shots from beyond the arc.

Meanwhile, the Wildcats shot a sizzling 53 perecent in the game from the floor. The were good on 28 of 53 field goal attempts, including seven of 11 from 3-point range.