Claire Leach sparks Red River rally in win over West Fargo

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Grand Forks Red River eighth-grader Jocelyn Schiller, left, defends against West Fargo's Chloe Pfau during a game Friday in Grand Forks. (Korrie Wenzel/Grand Forks Herald)

Claire Leach came out cold in the second half Friday night.

The Grand Forks Red River senior missed six of her first seven field-goal attempts after halftime. But Leach stayed within the offense.

“Last year, I’d get scared if I missed shots,’’ Leach said. “It’s still in the back of my mind. But our coaches tell us that whenever you’re open, don’t pass up an open shot.’’

Leach found her range late. She scored 10 in a 17-2 run that sparked the Roughriders to a 71-66 girls basketball win against visiting West Fargo.

After West Fargo went on a 10-3 spurt, taking a 56-54 lead with 5:23 left on two Ashlyn Diemert free throws, Red River put away the win with the big run.


Leach got the run going with a 3-point basket from the wing with 5:09 left. She followed with two free throws and Jasmine Sondrol, fouled on an offensive rebound, hit a pair of free throws. Leach added another trey and a layup in the run.

The Riders built their lead to 71-58 before West Fargo scored eight in the final 20 seconds.

“I needed to not be afraid,’’ Leach said. “Once I hit a few shots, my confidence went up.’’

Red River coach Kent Ripplinger said Leach hasn’t shot enough to be considered a streaky shooter.

“When we needed her tonight, she showed she’s capable,’’ Ripplinger said. “Now hopefully she believes she can do it, the confidence.

“When she hit that three (for the lead), that sparked us. We had a good run of making shots. That was the difference.’’

Leach and Sondrol had 17 points each to lead Red River, with Alex Page adding 13. The Riders also got key contributions from reserves Jade Azure (8 points) and Kaylee Lancaster (5 points). The two combined for nine points in a second-half stretch that kept Red River within striking distance.

“Our bench was big,’’ Ripplinger said. “I like our depth. We have a good bench. We don’t miss a beat when we go to it.’’


Red River’s defense also was a factor. West Fargo had 28 turnovers against the Riders’ pressure. The Roughriders converted the turnovers into 24 points.

McKenna Becher and Diemert dominated the Packers’ offense. Becher finished with 21 points and Diemert with 18. Each had a double double with 10 rebounds.

Shelby Frank narrowly missed a double double for Red River with 11 rebounds and eight points.

Red River improved to 2-0 while West Fargo dropped to 0-2.

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