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Zander has big second half to lead Mandan into Class A girls state semifinals

Courtney Olson of Mandan performs a layup against Devils Lake during their North Dakota Class A Girls Basketball quarterfinal game Thursday, March 8, at the Fargodome. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Editor1 / 4
Lizi Leingang of Mandan performs a layup in front of Mattea Vetsch of Devils Lake during their North Dakota Class A Girls Basketball quarterfinal game Thursday, March 8, at the Fargodome. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service2 / 4
Megan Zander of Mandan shoots over Jailyn Martinson of Devils Lake during their North Dakota Class A Girls Basketball quarterfinal game Thursday, March 8, at the Fargodome. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service3 / 4
Alex Palmer of Devils Lake shoots a three pointer over Megan Zander of Mandan during their North Dakota Class A Girls Basketball quarterfinal game Thursday, March 8, at the Fargodome. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service4 / 4

FARGO—Mandan junior Megan Zander started to make shots in the second half Thursday, March 8, at the Fargodome. That proved too much for Devils Lake to overcome.

Zander poured in 14 of her game-high 18 points in the second half as Mandan pulled away after halftime to earn a 68-46 victory in the North Dakota Class A girls basketball quarterfinals.

"That's always great if she can feel the rhythm from behind the arc," Mandan head coach Abby Thomas said. "It's huge for us when she knocks down shots. Our team just thrives off of that."

The 5-foot-11 Zander was 3-for-3 from 3-point range in the second half and also finished with a game-high 13 rebounds.

"We had a lot of energy coming out of halftime. We came out a little flat in the first half," Zander said. "We came out with a lot more energy the second half."

Devils Lake cut the Mandan lead to 41-37 after sophomore Abby Johnson scored a layup with 13 minutes, 2 seconds remaining in the second half. Mandan responded, scoring 11 of the next 14 points. Zander scored five points during that rally, including a 3-pointer. Lizi Leingang capped the rally with a layup that gave the Braves a 52-40 lead with 7:02 to play. Mandan later added a 13-0 run to seal the victory.

"Our kids are just fighters. They've been that way all year," Thomas said. "We've had a lot of close games. Our West Region is obviously very strong as you can see, all four team moving on to the semifinals."

Matt Vetsch lead the Firebirds with 11 points. Devils Lake shot 33 percent (20 of 60) from the floor and 23 percent (4 of 17) from 3-point range. Mandan outscored the Firebirds 34-17 in the second half.

"I give credit to our kids," Thomas said. "They just never, ever quit."

DL (18-7): Vetsch 5 0-0 11, Martinson 3 1-3 7, Johnson 3 0-0 7, Mertens 3 0-2 6, Heilman 3 0-0 6, Palmer 2 0-0 6, Brown 1 1-2 3, Ci. Olson 0 0-0 0, Schneider 0 0-0 0, Toso 0 0-0 0, Windjue 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 2-7 46.

MHS (19-6): Zander 6 2-4 18, Co. Olson 5 0-3 11, Darras 4 2-2 11, Leingang 2 2-2 7, Harris 2 2-2 6, Berger 2 2-4 6, Roehrich 1 3-4 6, Clarke 1 0-0 3, Gangl 0 0-0 0, Gustavsson 0 0-0 0, Mongeon 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 13-21 68.

Half: MHS 34, DL 29. 3-point goals: Vetsch, Johnson, Palmer, Zander 4, Co. Olson, Darras, Leingang, Roehrich, Clarke. Total fouls: DL 20, MHS 12. Rebounds: DL 25 (Mertens 7), MHS 31 (Zander 13).Turnovers: DL 19, MHS 23.

Eric Peterson
Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.

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