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Nighthawks break through for first state trip

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The Tripp-Delmont/Armour girls basketball team celebrates after receiving their Class B state qualifier plaque following a Round of 16 win over Waubay/Summit Thursday in Madison. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)2 / 2

MADISON—Time was running out and the lead was slipping away for the Tripp-Delmont/Armour girls basketball team. A 22-point lead was down to just four points in the final minute.

But the Nighthawks weren't going to make the co-op's first trip to the state tournament wait any longer, as 10th-seeded TDA held off No. 7 Waubay/Summit for a 55-50 victory in the Class B Round of 16 Thursday at Madison High School.

"We've worked five years for this. We just wanted it more," said junior Mattilynn Reiner, who had 21 points and 13 rebounds in the win. "We knew we had to outwork them as the game was winding down and that's what we did."

Tripp-Delmont/Armour (20-3) will be the No. 8 seed in the state tournament and will take on undefeated and top-seeded Faith (23-0) in the opening game on March 8 in Aberdeen.

Once the Nighthawks shook early nerves in the game and broke a 10-all tie after one quarter, TDA put together an 11-0 run late in the second quarter to assert a 13-point halftime lead.

With Reiner slicing through the Mustangs' 2-3 zone and finding open teammates, the Nighthawks were rolling. From off the bench, Ashlee Gerber scored 11 points and eight rebounds "mainly by being in the right spot," she said.

"We know we're balanced enough that if we stick with it, we're going to get our shot," she said. "We're all capable of knocking down shots."

A 31-18 halftime lead swelled to 22 early in the third quarter, as TDA scored the first nine points of the third quarter. Erica Koster drilled a corner 3-pointer, Brooklyn Brouwer had a layup and Reiner scored twice to make it 40-19 with 1 minute, 38 seconds gone in the third quarter.

But Waubay/Summit continued to cut at the lead, trimming it to 14 at the end of the third quarter, largely through the work of Kelsey Pearson, who had 24 points and nine rebounds on 8-for-13 shooting.

As time was running out, TDA was draining the clock but not scoring points, stuck on the 51st point scored by Kianna Payer with 6:29 remaining. Waubay/Summit got the lead down to four points with a Pearson basket with a minute left but got no closer. Reiner hit a free throw and Brouwer added three more, as the Nighthawks celebrated a state-tournament clinching win.

"We just had the composure down the stretch," TDA coach Kristi Allen said. "We've been in tough spots before and the kids just leaned on each other."

The Nighthawks shot 36.7 percent but had just three turnovers, while creating 13 of their own. TDA outscored W/S 38-18 in the paint, while the Mustangs won the rebounding battle 38-36.

It's the first state tournament trip for any of the communities since Tripp-Delmont qualified in 1999, while Armour last made it in 1988.

"It's a great feeling, knowing the type of work we've put in," Brouwer said.

TDA 10 31 47 55

WS 10 18 33 50

Scoring:

Tripp-Delmont/Armour (20-3): Erica Koster 7, Brooklyn Brouwer 10, Kianna Payer 6, Mattilynn Reiner 21, Ashlee Gerber 11.

Waubay/Summit (20-3): Lauren Benike 3, Makayla Zirbel 9, Zoey Wohlleber 6, Kelsey Pearson 24, Victoria Zirbel 2, Emily Ollerich 6.

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