BANGOR — The Melrose-Mindoro High School girls basketball team was determined to control the lane on Monday, and the focus paid off in the form of a 74-52 nonconference victory over Bangor.
The Mustangs snuffed out just about every chance the Cardinals pursued inside and used a milestone night from senior Mesa Byom to improve to 2-0.
Byom scored a game-high 16 points, but a basket off an offensive rebound in the first half gave the South Dakota State commit her 1,000th point as a Mustang.
"It's always been a goal of mine during my high school career," said Byom, a starter since her freshman season. "I've seen so many talented people do this (at Melrose-Mindoro), and it's fun to be able to be one of them."
Byom is the third Mustang to reach 1,000 career points in the last three seasons. Former teammates Katie Christopherson and Erika Simmons both reached 1,000 as juniors in 2017-2018.
Byom's 16 points and big defensive performance were backed up by 15 points from Teagan Frey, 14 from Calette Lockington and 13 from Elizabeth Herzberg.
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The Cardinals (1-1) were led by senior Karsen Kershner's 13 points and Taylor Jacobson's nine.
Melrose-Mindoro made Kershner work for all of her points -- she had just three field goals inside the 3-point line -- after establishing her as the No. 1 defensive target.
The Cardinals weren't shy about trying to score inside, but Byom spent the night swatting away shots and pulling down errant ones to try and get the Mustangs in transition.
"Karsen is a fabulous basketball player," Melrose-Mindoro coach Joey Arneson said. "We wanted to challenge her in the post, but that also has to be a focus of ours in every game."
The 6-foot-2 Byom is a big reason for that. She positioned herself well consistently in the paint, and that made it tough for anyone else to get rebounds and for any Bangor player to get off a clean shot.
"She's 6-2," said Herzberg, who has scored 975 points during her four-year career. "That's what we need from her."
Herzberg scored six points as Melrose-Mindoro built a 9-0 lead. The Mustangs pushed the ball up the floor when they could and extended the lead before Bangor fought back.
The Cardinals didn't score until a Haley Jones 3-pointer with 13 minutes, 29 seconds left in the first half and were later within 18-13 after another basket by Jones, but the Mustangs stormed back.
Melrose-Mindoro ended the first half with a 20-5 run for a 38-18 lead and kept the advantage in the 20s for the majority of the second half.