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Grand Forks Red River pushes past Wahpeton in second half for 59-53 win in girls basketball

Jocelyn Schiller scores a game-high 20 in the Roughrider's victory.

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Roughriders guard Jocelyn Schiller and Wahpeton's Lidia Motl, center right, vie for possession of a loose ball in the first half of a girls basketball matchup at Red River High School on Thursday, December 30, 2021.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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Entering the final minute of play, Grand Forks Red River needed to stop the pressure Wahpeton was putting on its five-point lead. The Riders found their boost when Hannah Litzinger nailed a three-pointer to put the Roughriders back in the driver’s seat and sealed a 59-53 win over the Huskies on Thursday.

“You always wonder how you’re going to play over break,” Red River head coach Kent Ripplinger said. “The schedules are different and it probably showed for both teams. Both teams looked tired at times and not playing as well as they were capable of.”

Litzinger was one of five Red River players to have 10 or more points. Jocelyn Schiller led the way with 20 points, Cassidy O’Halloran and Rylie McQuillan each had 12 and Litzinger picked up 10.

In the first half, scoring went back and forth as both teams played tight up to the buzzer. Some clutch threes from McQuillan pulled Red River ahead but Wahpeton’s Scout Woods and McKena Koolmo battled back after each field goal to keep it a five-point game at the break.

“It’s been a trend of ours to put teams in the bonus early. We just have to be better. Sometimes we get a decent trap but we have to be smarter,” Ripplinger said.

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Right out of the gates in the second half, the Huskies scored back-to-back field goals to get their team even closer, but as the momentum grew for Wahpeton so did the transition press from the Roughriders.

“It always seems like we can put a run together by getting stops or even a turnover that leads to points. We got a little bit of that, but we knocked a couple of shots down,” Ripplinger said.

Red River answered with four points of its own and was able to control the majority of the second half, with Schiller contributing 13 of her 20 points on the other side of the break. It was also Schiller that hit two key mid-range jump shots in the waning moments of the game to put an exclamation mark on the victory.

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Roughriders guard Rylie McQuillan paces Wahpeton's Amyah Max (3) down the court at Red River High School in the first half of a matinee girls basketball game on Thursday, December 30, 2021.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

“We got up by 12 at one point and were playing better but Wahpeton just didn’t quit. They started attacking the rim and we gave them lanes to the basket. We just have to do a better job defensively keeping the ball out of the paint,” said Ripplinger.

The sophomore trio of Schiller, McQuillan and Litzinger have started to grow into their own from Ripplinger’s perspective. With a young roster in general, wins with which there is more to build off can bring more positives to the group.

“We were fighting through some things today. A lot of the actual game play at this level is new to 80% of our kids. Hopefully, we can get to the point where we can fight through some things and understand a lot of the time it's not complicated,” he said.

The Red River girls will be on the road next week with scheduled stops at Valley City on Tuesday and West Fargo Sheyenne on Friday.

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Red River forward Hannah Litzinger lines up her shot on a first-half free throw during a home matchup against Wahpeton on Thursday, December 30, 2021.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

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Grand Forks Red River 59, Wahpeton 53

Halftime - GFRR 29, WHS 24
Red River – Jocelyn Schiller 20, Rylie McQuillan 12, Cassidy O’Halloran 12, Hannah Litzinger 10, Emily Robson 3, Ella Speidel 2
Wahpeton – Scout Woods 15, McKena Koolmo 16, Emma Bontjes 9, Aiyana Allard 5, Taya Lunneborg 4, Lidia Motl 4, Amyah Max 1

Digital Content Producer and Sports Reporter at the Grand Forks Herald since December of 2020. Maxwell can be contacted at mmarko@gfherald.com.
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