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Red River knocks off Shanley in East Region girls semifinals

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FARGO—Grand Forks Red River head coach Kent Ripplinger knows what he's going to get from Roughriders junior guard Kenady Steffan.

"With Kenady, you have a lot of fire," Ripplinger said.

Steffan helped ignite her team Friday night. She scored a team-high 17 points to lead Red River to a 58-46 victory against Fargo Shanley in the East Region girls basketball semifinals at Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Complex.

Red River advanced to the region title game, which is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday against Fargo Davies. The Roughriders earned a spot in next week's North Dakota Class A state tournament.

"It's a really huge relief," Steffan said of earning a spot at state. "We worked so hard this year. We wanted to get it and we finally got it. It was breathtaking, really exciting."

Shanley had its string of region tournament titles ended. The Deacons had won the previous five East Region championships.

"I think when Red River got us down that took us out of our game plan and we never got ourselves back into it," Deacons head coach Steve Jacobson said.

The Roughriders surged into the lead late in the first half and didn't trail after halftime. Red River forced 32 Shanley turnovers. The Deacons shot 23 percent (12 of 52) from the field.

"Turnovers was our biggest issue," Jacobson said. "No excuses, we played a very good Red River team. They took a lot of things away from us."

Steffan helped Red River surge into the lead in the closing minutes of the opening half. The Roughriders scored the final seven points before halftime to take a six-point lead into the break. The 5-foot-5 Steffan scored five points during that run, including a 3-point play that gave the Roughriders a 25-19 lead with 1 minute, 33 seconds remaining in the first half. Red River carried that lead into halftime.

"Keeping the lead was big for us," Ripplinger said. "I thought we did a pretty good job defensively the whole game. For us to keep the lead and to keep our composure and to keep our poise was big."

The Deacons couldn't get closer than within five points of the lead after halftime. Steffan added a long 3-pointer that gave Red River a 49-38 victory with 4:40 remaining in the second half. Steffan finished with a game-high six assists.

"Every single player that I play with on my team works hard, they give it 110 percent all the time," Steffan said. "It's really fun to play with them."

Sophomore guard Reile Payne led Shanley with a game-high 19 points and added eight rebounds. The Deacons took a 19-18 lead after a Caira Berg basket with 5:04 remaining in the first half. However, that was Shanley's last lead as the Roughriders countered with their 7-0 run leading into halftime.

Shanley plays West Fargo Sheyenne in a state-qualifying game at 4:15 p.m. Saturday.

"We've just got to be ready to play tomorrow," Jacobson said. "Nothing is a sure thing. We just have to play a good game."

RR (18-5): Steffan 5 6-9 17, Frank 4 3-5 11, Steffen 3 0-0 7, Page 2 3-4 7, Burris 2 1-4 5, Sondrol 2 1-2 5, Wilson 2 0-0 4, Robson 1 0-0 2. Totals 21 14-24 58.

SHANLEY (17-6): Payne 6 6-6 19, Huber 0 9-10 9, Berg 4 0-3 8, Busek 1 1-2 4, Christmann 1 1-1 3, Vetter 0 2-6 2, Visser 0 1-2 1. Totals 12 20-30 46.

Half: RR 25, SH 19. 3-point goals: Steffan, Steffen, Payne, Busek. Total fouls: RR 24, SH 20. Fouled out: Berg. Rebounds: RR 42 (Frank 10), SH 46 (Berg 10). Assists: RR 13 (Steffan 6), SH 5 (Huber 3). Turnovers: RR 25, SH 32.