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Grand Forks Red River stays undefeated with 64-41 win over West Fargo

The Roughriders exploded in the second half with a 15-1 run that featured five Rylie McQuillan threes.

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Red River's Jocelyn Schiller (30) and Rylie McQuillan, center right, fight to turn over the ball from West Fargo forward Chloe Pfau (11) in the first half of a N.D. East Region girls basketball game at Red River High School in Grand Forks on Tuesday, January 11, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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Backed by 23 points from Rylie McQuillan, Grand Forks Red River pushed ahead with a 64-41 win over West Fargo on Tuesday night in a battle of Eastern Dakota Conference unbeatens.

The Roughriders came in off an 11-day break, which just so happened to be directly after their official winter break. With those fresh legs, they were able to attack with the press early and often.

“That’s what gets it done for us. We’ve got to play tough defense in the full court and rebound the basketball,” Red River coach Kent Ripplinger said after the win to move to 6-0.

Both teams answered the other’s push for momentum in the first half. Starting slow with the Packers picking up a 10-7 lead, Red River upped the intensity and were able to respond with field goals of their own.

West Fargo’s Miriley Simon and Jessica Walsvik made it difficult to drive to the baseline, which forced the Roughriders to create from the field.

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“We know West Fargo is a very good team and we knew they were short-handed. When you are playing against a good team you never know how your kids are going to play and we have some inexperience, but I thought we did a great job,” Ripplinger said.

By the end of the first half it resulted in a lead shift with Red River stopping a 9-0 West Fargo run with 11 points of their own. Rylie McQuillan and Emily Robson each hit threes to put the Roughriders ahead 27-23 heading into the half.

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The Roughriders bench celebrates a three-pointer by Red River guard Rylie McQuillan (not pictured) in the second half of a home basketball game in Grand Forks against the West Fargo Packers on Tuesday, January 11, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

McQuillan opened the second half with three three-pointers, and Jocelyn Schiller added one as well, to extend the Red River lead to 41-30 in the first five minutes of the half. Schiller acted as a spark throughout the night for the Roughriders with heavy transition pressure. It became a likely occurrence that Red River would build off a turnover.

“Rylie is an excellent shooter. When she’s open, she better shoot it. That’s her job and that’s been a rule of ours. Sometimes you better take that open shot because the pass you make might be the one that leads to a turnover,” said Ripplinger.

This would just be the beginning of the offense for them in the second half. The six-point swing turned into a 15-1 run and had the Roughriders in the bonus with just under eight minutes remaining.

“We like when we can build runs like that, but at the same time we know that every team is going to get better,” Ripplinger said. “And it always looks good when you knock shots down. I think we can absolutely build off that, but we still have lots of things to work on.”

Holding a 52-31 lead, Red River kept pushing on offense and were able to see the victory through to the end. The 64-41 win is their sixth of the year and hands West Fargo its first loss of the year, with a 7-1 record.

“There’s a lot of things we're going to watch on film in order to get even better. When you come back tomorrow it's about being better than we were today. It might sound cliche but that’s really what we are trying to do here,” said Ripplinger.

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Red River will now look to stay undefeated against Fargo Davies this week as the Riders travel to face the Eagles on Friday.

Red River 64, West Fargo 41
Halftime: Red River 27, West Fargo 23
West Fargo -- Miriley Simon 20, Jessica Walsvik 8, Chloe Pfau 5, Solveig Seymour 3, Jasmine Williams 3, Brylie Peterson 2
Red River -- Rylie McQuillan 20, Jocelyn Schiller 15, Hannah Litzinger 8, Emily Robson 8, Morgan Hartze 4, Cassidy O’Halloran 3, Ella Speidel 2, Alex Stauss 2, Amber Johnson 2

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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