BELLEVUE, Neb. – The Warriors are quickly becoming the team no one wants to play as the near misses soon will turn into victories.
But Saturday, another fantastic effort by the Waldorf women’s basketball team was spoiled by a late surge by host Bellevue, as the Bruins survived a scare for a 70-64 win in North Star Athletic Association action.
“I have been really proud of how our ladies have played lately,” Waldorf head coach Katie Schutjer said of the Warriors third straight near victory, a run that started last Saturday with a 63-61 almost-upset of No. 6 ranked Jamestown. “We are putting ourselves in the position to win these close games, now we just have to learn how to finish them.
“I thought today was another hard fought game for our team,” the Warriors coach added.
Back-to-back 3s by Samantha Birkes and Taylor Fricke got the Warriors (5-17 overall, 2-10 NSAA) rolling Saturday, but the hosts battled back to build an eight-point lead in the second quarter.
The Warriors current run of solid play includes resiliency, though, and it showed up once again as Waldorf rallied with a 10-2 charge capped by a Birkes triple that tied the game, 30-30, to open the second half.
The host Bruins (16-11, 9-4) reestablished their edge, up 43-32 in the third quarter, but the Warriors battled back to 47-44 down on two Ameh Ogbemudia free throws, and as close as 50-46 early in the final frame on a Michaela Graffunder bucket.
“We had a bad stretch in the second quarter that hurt us a little in the first half, and second half we let them go on a little run,” Schutjer said. “However, I think we responded really well, and being able to respond kept us in the game.”
A final Bellevue charge provided the difference, though, as a quick 8-0 spurt gave the hosts just enough breathing room, up 13 points with 7 ½ minutes.
“They hit some big shots at key times in the game that sealed the deal for them,” Schutjer said.
The Warriors chipped away, getting as close as 65-60 down on a Taylor Fricke layup in the final 2 minutes before Waldorf’s final charge came up short.
Fricke led the way with 15 points and six rebounds on Saturday, while Birkes tossed in 14 points, Ogbemudia scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds, and Morgan Straight added seven points and six assists for the Warriors.
Waldorf now returns home to close out the regular season by hosting four straight games at the Hanson Fieldhouse, a home-stand that begins with Dickinson State on Friday at 5:30 p.m.