BISMARCK — Jason Schreder had seen glimpses of a defense that could be devastating with its pressure and relentless with its intensity.
"There were times," he said, "we had that for moments."
Tuesday night, the St. Thomas More coach saw 32 minutes of stellar defense as the Sabers outlasted Bismarck-Henning 47-38 in a nonconference game between 20-win teams assigned to the same Class 2A regional next week.
"Overall, for a whole game, that was our best defensive effort," Schreder said.
St. Thomas More forced seven first-quarter turnovers and built a 17-10 lead at the break. According to Schreder, it all started up front.
"We've got the ability to pressure teams and exploit that," he said. "Randa (Harshbarger), Jade (Brinkoetter) and Courtney (Wax) are like attack dogs. They make teams struggle to get it over half court." The Sabers' halftime lead was 28-20, a margin attributed to a combined 3-of-3 accuracy from three-point range by two non-starters, Wax and Brooke Schmidt.
"They are capable of that. It's something we saw over the summer," Schreder said. "They can make shots when they catch it in rhythm."
Bismarck-Henning scored the first 10 points of the third quarter — six by Samantha Siddens, who played in her home finale — and took its only lead, 30-28.
That lasted only as long as it took Harshbarger to steal the ball on consecutive possessions and drive in for layups.
"They picked our pocket twice, and that changed the momentum for the game," B-H coach Mike Stephens said. "They were very aggressive. Their kids played well."
Harshbarger, who scored a game-high 13 points, said the key was to remain calm during the Blue Devils' run.
"We had to stay levelheaded and not panic," she said.
Tuesday's game was between schools that shared the No. 13 position in the Class 2A state poll released earlier in the day,
The win marked the second road victory for the Sabers in as many days. The team beat Ridgeview on Monday.
"This was a similar setup to the way the regional will be," Schreder said, "playing back-to-back (in the semifinals and finals) days against a quality opponent the first game and someone better the second game."
He expects his team to be plenty confident entering the postseason, which will start with a regional it will host.
"We've gotten that mojo back heading into the regional," he said, "and feel real good about ourselves right now. With this win, we've beaten every team we could play in the regional."
Lexi Wallen scored 10 points for the Sabers (23-5), and Brinkoetter grabbed a team-high four rebounds.
Siddens and Lori Haas each had 10 points for Bismarck-Henning (21-6), which committed 26 turnovers. Siddens, Bailey Bryant and Emily Weinard all had four rebounds.