A fast start by the top-seeded Squirrels of Central Cass was too much for Hettinger-Scranton in Thursday's quarterfinals at the Class B girls basketball state championship tournament in Minot.
Central Cass won by a 58-43 margin.
However, the one-loss Squirrels had their hands full with senior Samantha Oase throughout the game.
The Hettinger-Scranton player gave the top-seeded team fits throughout the game, finishing with 15 points, nine rebounds, four blocks, three assists and two steals. Offensively, Samantha Oase hit seven of her 13 shots from the field and was 1-for-5 at the free throw line.
The win improved the Squirrels to 23-1 into the semifinals Friday, while the loss dropped the Night Hawks to 20-5 as it heads into the consolation bracket, where they will face off in a 2:30 p.m. (CT) battle. The winner of Friday's consolation contest will play in 2:30 p.m. (CT) fifth place game Saturday afternoon.
The Squirrels jumped out to a 17-9 lead after one quarter, but saw the Night Hawks come back to outscore the top seed by a 10-9 margin to cut the Central Cass advantage to seven points (26-19).
The Squirrels came back strong, adding another seven points to their cushion in the third quarter by outscoring the Night Hawks (15-8).
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Squirrels kept adding to a 41-27 advantage, eventually building up a 22-point lead with just over three minutes left in the game.
A couple of late three-pointers help cut the lead in the final minutes, with Vanessa Oase hitting one with 23 seconds left in the contest. The Squirrels only had a one-point advantage in the final quarter scoring (17-16).
Bailee Pierce scored 14 for the Night Hawks, hitting half her short-range and long-range shots. The junior was 5-of-10 in short, while hitting half of the team's four three-point scores.
Ella Jensen finished with five points, including one try, while Casitee Miller put in four points and Vanessa Oase added her three-points late. Beth Lien had two points.
Morgan Lee led Central Cass with 16 points, while Decontee Smith added 13. Klair Cotton just missed double figure scoring with nine, while her sister Jaylin Cotton added seven. Victoria Richter had five, Rylie Holzer scored four while Kailey McKinnon finished with three points.
Central Cass had a big advantage the paint, outscoring the Night Hawks by a 32-20 margin. The Squirrels also had an 11-7 edge in scoring off turnovers, a 6-12 edge in second chance scoring and a 4-0 edge in scoring off fast breaks.
The Squirrels also had a 26-3 edge over Hettinger-Scranton in off-the-bench scoring.