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Cowboys lasso Bantams in Belfield

Feb. 5—BELFIELD, N.D. — In a non-conference matchup on Thursday night, the Belfield Bantams and the Killdeer Cowboys both gleaned valuable lessons about their strengths, weaknesses, and adaptability

Despite their strong defensive efforts, the Bantams fell behind early as their shots failed to find the mark. The Cowboys, on the other hand, capitalized on their accuracy from the free-throw line to secure a 41-33 victory.

"I was always taught to keep the refs out of the game and, by doing so, just get a comfortable lead and play ahead. But we were playing from behind the whole time, so that was tough," Reggie Fields, Belfield's head coach, said. "Offensively, we struggled, but I really want to tip my hat off to my girls for how they stuck together on the defensive end and kept us in the game by getting stops, 5-second counts, shot clock violations, and so on and so forth."

This season, Belfield has built a reputation for their defensive prowess and gritty basketball style, boasting 5-4 and 4-3 records in the District and Region, respectively. Meanwhile, Killdeer had faced challenges in their own conference, holding a 0-3 region record before this game. However, with their victory over the Bantams, their overall record improved to 8-10.

The game began with the Bantams taking an early lead, but Killdeer's senior forward, Marnie Schmidt, soon seized the lead from the free-throw line. The Cowboys nearly extended their lead with a 3-pointer, but it was ruled as coming just after the shot clock buzzer. Nevertheless, sophomore Mickellyn Walker sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer, ending the first quarter on a high note.

In both the second and third quarters, Belfield outscored Killdeer, forcing turnovers and benefiting from five-second rule violations. At the start of the third quarter, Walker played a pivotal role for the Cowboys, providing crucial assists from the baseline.

"We had some turnovers in the beginning of the third quarter, and I think that making those assists really got us going again," Mickellyn Walker said. "We had to take a timeout early, but we got back into it. [This win] feels really good. We knew that Belfield was an aggressive team. They play pretty rough, and so we had to be equally rough with them."

Coach Fields took responsibility for the Bantams' inability to build on their first-half lead and gave credit to Killdeer for employing an unconventional zone defense.

"I told the girls in the locker room that I felt like I messed up on that part," Fields said. "Killdeer, they came out in a 1-2-2, and that is something that we run, but we never ran against it on defense, so I feel like I didn't have my girls prepared for that. But it was a great learning lesson, and going forward, I think we will be ready for every zone we see."

In the final quarter, Belfield attempted a comeback, with senior Sage Froehlich and sophomore Sydney Froehlich sinking 3-pointers. However, fouls allowed the Cowboys to maintain their lead, with 9 of their 16 points coming from free throws. Senior Josey Andersen exhibited excellent accuracy, scoring 60 percent of her free throws and totaling 12 points, closely followed by Walker, who led both teams with 14 points.