Girls basketball: O'Gorman mounts comeback to knock off No. 1 Jefferson

Defending champs rally for road win over Cavaliers

O'Gorman's Lucy Moore (11) celebrates with teammate Mahli Abdouch (15) after the buzzer sounded on the Knights' win over Jefferson on Thursday, Feb. 16 at the Jefferson gym in Sioux Falls.
Matt Zimmer/Forum News Service

The 5th-ranked O'Gorman girls spent almost the entirety of Thursday night's game against No. 1 Jefferson trailing the Cavaliers. The Knights dug themselves a big early hole; too big, almost, to come back from.


After taking a couple hard early punches from the Cavs, O'Gorman spent the rest of the game steadily fighting back, finally taking their first lead with 90 seconds to go and hanging on for a 47-43 win in the Jefferson gym.

Mahli Abdouch had 16 points for the Knights, who hit six straight free throws down the stretch to secure the win, while Julia Eggert added 10.

Eggert hit two free throws to give the Knights a 43-42 lead with 1:30 to go, and after a Jefferson miss, OG had a chance to extend that lead but turned it over. Jefferson came up empty again, and Kira Mentele grabbed the rebound with eight seconds left, and after getting fouled went to the line and hit both to put the Knights up 45-42.


The Cavs' Aliyah McGovern-Harrington was fouled on a potential game-tying 3 with 2.6 seconds left, but after missing the second of three free throws was forced to intentionally miss the third and hope for an offensive rebound, but failed to draw iron.

Jefferson's Jaidyn Dunn works toward the basket during the Cavaliers' game against O'Gorman on Thursday, Feb. 16 at the Jefferson gym in Sioux Falls.
Matt Zimmer/Forum News Service

"It's a battle every night you step on the court," said Knights coach Kent Kolsrud. "In the second half we did a better job of dictating the action on offense and getting in the paint and taking it to them."

Jefferson jumped out to a 12-4 lead and pushed it as high as 20-9 early in the second quarter, and Kolsrud admitted another bucket or two from the Cavs might have been enough to make the deficit too big. But O'Gorman stayed in it, going to the half within five at 32-27, and cutting it to a two-point game at 37-35 after three.

"Throughout the first half we kept saying, 'We're fine girls, we're fine, we've just go to hang in there'," Kolsrud said. "We managed to weather the storm and just had to come out with more aggressiveness."

The Cavs answered, though, and when Cierra Watkins' 3-pointer gave them a 42-37 lead with 4:30 to go and the fans came to life, it felt like the home team was going to pull it off. But that would be Jefferson's last field goal of the game.

"Basketball's a game of runs," said Cavs coach Shaunteva Pruett, who got 21 points from McGovern-Harrington and 11 from Jaidyn Dunn. "We had some runs early on and they had some runs late. It was a fun environment - it felt like a state (tournament) game going back and forth. Give credit to O'Gorman - they made the plays down the stretch and made the stops down the stretch."

The defending 'AA' champs improve to 14-4 with the win, while the Cavs fall to 14-3. It's going to be a wide open postseason, and while the Knights would've been one of the contenders no matter what happened on Thursday, winning on the road against the top-ranked team couldn't be much bigger.

"I'm proud of the whole team - everyone contributed," Kolsrud said. "Our bench was really excited. It was a fun game. It was gonna be a tough game to lose and I feel fortunate to get out with the win."

Matt Zimmer is a Sioux Falls native and longtime sports writer. He graduated from Washington High School where he played football, legion baseball and developed his lifelong love of the Minnesota Twins and Vikings. After graduating from St. Cloud State University, he returned to Sioux Falls, began a long career in amateur baseball and started working as a sports freelancer. Zimmer was hired as a sport reporter at the Argus Leader in 2004, where he covered Sioux Falls high schools and colleges before moving to the South Dakota State University beat in 2014.
What To Read Next
Get Local