PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL: Vikings use strong first half to beat RTR

Minneota’s Abby Hennen shoots over an RTR defender Monday night. The Vikings won 79-44

MINNEOTA – The Minneota Vikings picked up their fourth straight win in convincing fashion with a 79-44 victory over the Russell-Tyler-Ruthton Knights. The Vikings press and tight man-to-man pressure forced 27 RTR turnovers, which led to easy transition buckets for the Vikings.

“We did a nice job of rotating tonight,” Minneota coach Chad Johnston said. “It’s something we’ve been doing all year. At this point in time most teams know were going to press them. It was effective tonight. We ran into two opponents last week that handled our pressure. We’ve gotten a lot of different things from it this year. Sometimes it’s turnovers and other times it just wearing teams down. Sometimes it’s not allowing them to get into a rhythm on offense. Tonight we got a little bit of everything. We got turnovers and we got easy transition buckets out of it.”

The Vikings set the tempo from the opening tip. They buried the Knights early thanks to their tenacious defense by jumping out to a 17-3 lead. RTR coach Josh Fredrickson said the game’s opening minutes set the tone for the entire game.

“They are a good team,” Fredrickson said. “They do a good job on their press and you have to give them a lot of credit. They turned us over and that’s been the case all year. We just need to do a better job of handling pressure and keeping our heads. That kind of set the tempo for the entire game.”

After the Knights settled in they were able to cut Minneota’s lead to 17-7. The Vikings then pulled away for good, going on a 15-2 run to open up a 32-9 lead. At the half the Vikings held a commanding 54-20 lead.

The second half was more competitive, with the Vikings outscoring the Knights 25-24. Fredrickson said he was pleased with his team’s effort in the second half.

“We were just having more fun in the second half,” Fredrickson said. “Hopefully in the future it doesn’t take us getting down 30 points for us to start having fun. We were playing more freely and making some good moves to the basket.”

The Vikings had six players score five or more points, led by 23 from Lydia Sussner. Abby Hennen scored 15 and Charlie Josephson chipped in with 10. Johnston credits the balanced attack due to his team getting easy buckets in transition.

“Again it goes back to our transition points for us,” Johnston said. “We made some good passes in transition. In the halfcourt we worked it into Lydia (Sussner). She had some nice kickouts. We did a good job of moving without the basketball.”

Tina Haroldson led the Knights with 15 points. Hallie Lingen also reached double figures with 12 points.

The Knights will wrap up its regular season Thursday when they travel to Canby to take on the Lancers. Canby won the first meeting 72-45.

The Vikings will look to extend their winning streak to five games tonight when they host the Fulda Raiders.

“We need to bounce back and put together two good games,” Johnston said. “We struggled last Thursday and Friday. This is basically four games in four days. We need to put together back to back good games. It’s close to postseason time and we need be playing good basketball.”

RTR 20 24-44

Minneota 54 25-79

SCORING: Minneota 18-54, 53.2 percent (Sussner 9-13, 5-6 23; A. Hennen 7-7, 0-0 15; Josephson 5-12, 0-0 10; M. Hennen 3-4, 3-4 9; Guttormsson 3-4, 0-0 6; Engels 2-5, 1-2 5) RTR 18-54, 33.3 percent (Haroldson 6-12, 3-8 15; Lingen 5-13, 2-5 12).

3-POINT FGS: Minneota 1 (A. Hennen) RTR 1 (Buchert).

REBOUNDS: Minneota 36 (Josephson 9; A. Hennen 5) RTR 29 (Haroldson 6; Two with 5).

ASSISTS: Minneota 9 (Sussner 4; Guttormsson 2) RTR 9 (Haroldson 4; Two with 2).

STEALS: Minneota 14 (M. Hennen 3; Three with 2) RTR 2 (Lingen 2).

BLOCKS: Minneota 5 (Sussner 4; Moorse 1) RTR 0.

FOULS: Minneota NR, RTR NR

TURNOVERS: Minneota 16, RTR 27