Going into Wednesday's nonconference matchup between Minot High School and Grand Forks Central, Minot head coach Todd Magnuson knew it would be a hard-fought battle - and it was.
Central was able to solve Minot's stout defense and Minot was unable to shut down Caitlin Farroh as she and the Knights topped the Majettes 63-50 at the Magic City Campus gym. Farroh led GFC with 30 points, 13 rebounds and four steals.
Minot (5-1) came out in the first half similarly to how it did Tuesday night against Grand Forks Red River - hot. Minot went on a 10-point run, but the Knights fought back and took a four-point lead into the half, 31-27.
Minot High School junior Holly Johnson, left, grabs a loose ball while being defended by Grand Forks Central senior Jessica Lindsay in their girls basketball game Wednesday at the Magic City Campus gymnasium. Central escaped with a 63-50 win.
Central (5-0) was happy to have any lead after the half.
"First half - Minot was fortunate to play a game last night," GFC head coach Brent Hintz said. "And I heard that they came out hot last night. We played a little bit like we had a Christmas break there in the first half. We felt really fortunate to actually be up four at halftime."
The Knights made changes at the half, and it clearly made the difference.
"Grand Forks came out, made some adjustments to our zone - made a great adjustment to our zone," Minot head coach Todd Magnuson said. "We couldn't adapt to it and that's why they're one of the top teams in the east right now. Because, they've got some kids who can play basketball."
At halftime the Knights felt they needed to lock down on defense.
"We really talked a lot about defense at halftime, we talked about just starting to contest more shots," Hintz said. "We felt we gave them too many open shots in the first half. And to their credit they made them and so we really talked about contesting everything in the second half and making shots more difficult, more tough for them. I felt like we did that."
The Majettes felt the pressure of Central's defense as they held Holly Johnson to 16 points, Alex Bolinske to 10 and Andie Hankla 9. Johnson led the team in rebounds (9), assists (5), and steals (4).
Magnuson said he saw his girls feeling the effects of playing hard for two straight nights.
"I got to tip my hat to my kids, two nights in a row they played some pretty salty basketball for about three halves. Tonight the second half was a tough one for us," Magnuson said. "I played a lot of kids tonight, I told my kids in there, 'Things are going to change next week, we're going to start finding kids that are going to want to play constantly, consistently for us.' Things have to change a little bit, we'll go with that and see what happens."
GFC gave Minot multiple looks down low on easy dump shots, but the Majettes were unable to capitalize. The missed shots coupled with a breakdown on defense led to giving the Knights the offensive looks they wanted.
"I don't know how many easy shots we missed inside. There were a lot of shots, nice shots that we had - just wouldn't fall for us. We're going to get better at that," Magnuson said. "We just didn't do some things that we normally do on defense. We just didn't move very good the second half. We miss shots all the time inside. Tonight I don't think we had the legs to finish our shots. We looked tired out there at times in our offense."
Minot was unable to shut down Farroh, a senior center.
"She's a force inside," Magnuson said. "To be 6-foot-1 and to play the way she plays, wants the ball all the time - that's what I need out of my post players. I think we were a little intimidated by her inside tonight. I don't think we'll really meet anyone that big in our WDA, so she's probably one of the tallest girls we're going to see all year."
"She's obviously a big part of our offense, she's a big part of our defense," GFC coach Hintz said. "And not only does she score points for us, she gives her teammates opportunities for open shots. She draws so much attention that she makes other players around her better because she's able to create open shots for her teammates."
The Majettes travel to Mandan Jan. 7 to take on the Braves at 7:30 p.m.