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Van Ruler’s big fourth quarter powers MCM past Todd County

McCook Central/Montrose guard Jacy Pulse splits Todd County defenders Lacee Halligan (20) and Alanis Murray (30) during a Class A state quarterfinal game on Thursday at Sioux Falls Arena. (Nick Sabato / Republic)

SIOUX FALLS -- Coming into the Class A girls basketball state quarterfinals on Thursday at Sioux Falls Arena, No. 6 McCook Central/Montrose knew it had a size advantage over No. 3 Todd County.

Foul trouble limited the minutes of Fighting Cougar 6-foot twin towers Abigail Van Ruler and Madisen Koepsell for much of the second and third quarters, but when crunch time rolled around, they utilized their mismatch on a squad whose tallest player was 5-foot-9.

Van Ruler scored 25 points, including six of the team’s last eight points as MCM outlasted Todd County, 80-75, advancing to its second consecutive Class A semifinal, where it faces No. 2 Winner at 4:45 p.m. today at the Premier Center.

“It’s hard to stop 6-foot-3, especially when we get our offense going, we get good seals and our guards make good passes,” MCM head coach Doug Durfee said. “… Down the stretch, that’s what we love to do. In close games we need to use our size, pound it in and we got it done tonight.”

Van Ruler scored 10 points in the first half for MCM (19-4), but sat for the last half of the second quarter with two fouls and missed a chunk of the third quarter after her third foul. Koepsell, meanwhile, played less than 7 minutes in the whole game after three fouls relegated her to the bench for most of the second quarter and all of the third.

Todd County (21-3) was able to turn a three-point halftime deficit into a seven-point lead with 5:39 left. Koepsell fouled out with 3 minutes left, but Morgan Erikson and Jacy Pulse hit back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game shortly after.

Then, they began to lob it in to Van Ruler, who scored 11 points in the fourth quarter and finished 10 of 12 from the field, putting back her only misses.

“After we had three consecutive successful post runs, we said, ‘This is where we’re going to get it done,’ ” Van Ruler said. “We just needed to take care of the ball and our posts would get it done for us.”

In the first half, Todd County was able to offset MCM’s advantage in the paint by employing a relentless full-court press that led to 22 turnovers and allowed the Falcons to keep the game at a frantic pace throughout.

Raven Cournoyer was at the head of the press and took advantage of the Fighting Cougar miscues to the tune of a game-high 28 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

“They’re one of the most athletic teams in the state,” Durfee said. “They don’t let up. Every player they bring in is fast, quick and athletic. We knew they were going to press us, we just had to withstand the storm a little bit.”

Van Ruler also grabbed 12 rebounds and added three blocks. Pulse finished with 18 points and nine rebounds, while Kranz had 12 points and 11 assists and Erikson scored 13 points.

Herman had 15 points and six assists for Todd County, which was outrebounded 53-33 in the game.

Notes: The 155 total points scored nearly broke the Class A state record of 158 in Redfield’s 97-61 win over Belle Fourche in 1998. It was also the highest-scoring state girls basketball game since 2009.

McCook Central/Montrose 80, Todd County 75

McCook Central/Montrose (19-4): Madisen Koepsell 2-5 0-0 4, Abigail Van Ruler 10-12 5-6 25, Jacy Pulse 6-12 5-7 18, Morgan Erikson 5-11 0-0 13, McKenna Kranz 5-16 0-1 12, Ciara Rother 0-0 1-2 1, Emily Bies 0-1 0-0 0, Ashtyn Wobig 2-2 3-6 9. Totals 30-59 14-22 80.

Todd County (21-3): Haylee Quick Bear 4-12 0-0 9, Teciah Spotted Tail 0-2 2-2 2, Raven Cournoyer 11-21 5-9 28, Kelsie Herman 7-16 0-1 15, Lacee Halligan 4-7 0-0 8, Shanelle Lone Dog 0-3 0-0 0, Kylie Randall 0-0 0-0 0, Alanis Murray 5-13 0-0 11, Samantha Yellow Eagle 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 32-77 7-14 75.

MCM 22 41 55 80

TC 18 38 56 75

3-point field goals: MCM 6-24 (Erikson 3-9, Kranz 2-10, Pulse 1-4, Bies 0-1), TC 4-18 (Quick Bear 1-2, Murray 1-4, Cournoyer 1-5, Herman 1-7). Fouled out: Koepsell. Rebounds: 53 (Van Ruler 12), TC 33 (Cournoyer 8). Assists: MCM 18 (Kranz 11), TC 15 (Cournoyer 6, Herman 6). Blocked shots: MCM 4 (Van Ruler 3), TC 0. Steals: MCM 4 (Kranz 2), TC 12 (Murray 4). Turnovers: MCM 22, TC 6. Total fouls: MCM 16, TC 21.