SECTION 3A GIRLS BASKETBALL: First round of sections in the books
MONTEVIDEO – Despite Mother Nature’s best attempts to not cooperate, the quarterfinal round in the North bracket of the Section 3A girls basketball tournament was played on Saturday afternoon at Montevideo High School. With the Minneota/Hendricks game being moved up a day early, only three games were held, with Yellow Medicine East, Lac qui Parle Valley and Wabasso all advancing to the next round.
No. 4N YME 64,
No. 5N MACCRAY 39
The No. 4N Yellow Medicine East girls basketball team stood tall – both literally and figuratively – against the No. 5N MACCRAY Wolverines during their Section 3A game on Saturday morning.
With seven players standing 5-foot-9 and above, the Sting used their size down low on both sides of the court to control the glass and paint as YME opened their quest in the section tournament with a 64-39 win over MACCRAY.
Both teams would start the game with some turnovers, as the score only read 3-2 after a few minutes of play. YME then started to find its groove on the offensive end over the next several possessions, with the Sting going on a 6-0 run before going up by double digits at 15-5 with 9:40 left.
YME continued to capitalize on its defensive stops to take a 23-6 lead with 5:44 left but a MACCRAY run cut the deficit to 14 at 27-13 with 2:45 to go in the first half. The Sting answered, however, with a pair of 3-pointers from Lauren McCosh and Sam Anderson as YME went up 35-19 at halftime.
In the second half, the Sting continued to find their offensive success inside the paint as YME quickly built a 39-19 lead early. Another run by the Sting pushed YME’s advantage to 25 with 13 minutes left before a 3-pointer from Madison Hinz made it 56-28 in favor of the Sting with 7:34 left. YME would control the pace the rest of the way en route to the 64-39 victory.
Sting coach Randy Haakenson said he was pleased with how his team maintained its aggressiveness despite some early foul trouble but added they’ll take the win when all things are said and done.
“In most games, there’s usually a lot of positives. We have a lot of balanced scoring despite the fact that we got in some foul trouble, we maintained our aggressiveness,” Haakenson said. “The one thing I always tell people is that for as much height as we have, we’re not the best rebounding team and I feel that maybe should be our strength, but overall a win is a win and I think that’s a good thing in the end.”
YME (17-7) advances to the Section 3A North semifinals and will face No. 1 Minneota on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at SMSU. Haakenson said they will have to limit their mistakes and knows the Vikings are a different team than when they started the season.
“We’ve seen them twice throughout the regular season. We know that they’re extremely talented and athletic and knew at the beginning of the year they were a young basketball team and as the year progressed they’re only going to get better,” Haakenson said. “Obviously if we’re going to play against a team like that and be competitive, I think we have to do a better job of taking care of the basketball and take advantage of our opportunities when they’re there. I always talk about being clean against good teams and if we’re going to have a chance on Tuesday night, we’re going to have to be clean and compete.”
No. 2N LQPV 71, No. 7N RTR 47
The No. 7N Russell-Tyler-Ruthton girls basketball team couldn’t overcome a hot shooting performance by the No. 2N seed Lac qui Parle Valley Eagles, as the Knights fell 71-47 on Saturday.
The Eagles controlled the pace right from the start, as LQPV knocked down a pair of early 3-pointers to take an 11-2 lead. Perimeter shooting was the main key for the Eagles in the first half, as LQPV continued to connect from long distance to build a 24-4 lead with nine minutes left in the opening frame.
RTR would get a 3-pointer of its own from Jackie Dressen to cut it to 34-9 with 5:30 left before a pair of free throws from Mya Christensen made it a 38-15 game with two minutes remaining. LQPV would have an answer, though, as it scored six straight points before getting another 3-pointer, this time to beat the first-half buzzer, to take a 47-16 lead at the break.
Just like they did in the first half, the Eagles came out firing on all cylinders to add to their lead early in the second half. The Knights were able to get more possessions for themselves through some strong defensive play, but were unable to capitalize on LQPV’s mistakes as the Eagles continued to maintain its second-half lead at 61-25 with 11 minutes left.
The Knights wouldn’t go down without a fight, however, as the RTR defense forced multiple Eagle turnovers that led to six straight points to cut it to 65-35 with seven minutes to go. LQPV would take control of the clock the rest of the way, though, as the Eagles advanced with a 71-47 victory.
RTR coach Steve Krause said it’s hard to get in a groove when the other team is clicking on all cylinders.
“It was a group effort; we play a lot of people and they just shoot the ball extremely well,” Krause said. “It’s hard to play against that and they were definitely quicker than us and it created some problems as well.”
RTR finishes its season with a 12-16 record. Krause said their biggest takeaway is that they were able to get some of the younger players some time on the court and return a good group despite losing eight seniors from this year.
“The young people played a lot more than in the beginning of the year, so that’s a good takeaway,” Krause said. “We’re going to miss eight seniors, but we’ve got a good core coming back.”
No. 6N Canby 57
The No. 3N Wabasso and No. 6N Canby girls basketball teams wrapped up the night with a tightly contested battle before the Rabbits used a second-half push to create separation and take out the Lancers 73-57 on Saturday.
The Rabbits got things going to start, going on a 5-0 run before a pair of 3-pointers from the Lancers’ Sarah Hansen tied the game back up at 7-7 and then gave Canby its first lead of the night at 10-9 with 13:35 left in the first half.
Both teams would then trade points back and forth over the next several minutes, as another 3-pointer from Hansen gave the Lancers a 17-12 lead with 11 minutes to go but Wabasso answered right back with a couple of long distance shots itself to retake the lead.
More points were then traded, as both teams continued to play with high levels of pace. With the Rabbits holding a slim 25-23 lead, Wabasso’s Jenna Frank connected on a 3-pointer to make it 28-25 with 4:30 left, before Maddy Guetter hit one of her own to bring it to 31-27. Canby responded with a three from Alyssa Beckius to cut the deficit to one at 31-30 before a layup by Beckius on the Lancers’ next possession gave Canby the lead, but Wabasso ended up with the advantage at 35-34 at halftime.
The back-and-forth action that highlighted the first half only continued to start the final frame as the game got tighter in physicality. A 3-pointer from McKenna Nelson of the Rabbits put Wabasso up 40-38 with 13:33 left before Nelson connected on another triple to make it a six-point lead at 46-40.
Canby wouldn’t go away, though, as the Lancers battled back to cut the deficit to one at 46-45 with 10:51 to go. With neither team going on a significant run at this point of the game, it looked like the game would go down to the wire. But the Rabbits had other ideas, as Wabasso got a pair of 3-pointers from Nelson and Frank that highlighted a 15-3 spurt in favor of the Rabbits over the next several minutes to extend their lead to 61-48 with seven minutes left.
The Lancers continued to fight, however, as Hansen drilled another 3-pointer to cut it to 11 with 5:05 remaining, but Wabasso countered with six straight points to push its lead back to 17 a minute later. Canby would get as close as 14 down the stretch, but the Rabbits sealed the game at the free-throw line to take home the 73-57 victory.
Wabasso coach Neil Dolan said it took a group effort but was pleased overall with the team’s perseverance, especially in the second half.
“It was a group effort. We came out and shot the ball the well the first half and they were ready for our pressure and did a good job against that pressure, but our girls persevered in the second half,” Dolan said. “Anytime you outscore a team by 15 in the second half it takes some effort to do that and the girls stuck with it, hit some big shots and that was the big difference.”
Guetter led the way for the Rabbits with 21 points while Nelson added 15 and Frank had 14. Guetter also led in rebounds with 16 while Lindsey Bernardy led in assists with five.
Hansen led the way for the Lancers with 17 points while Beckius added 15 and Kaylee Leppke and Norah King each had nine. King led in rebounds with six while Beckius led in assists with five.
Canby coach Jeff Thovson said he was pleased with his team’s effort throughout the game, especially in the first half.
“I thought the kids played well. The first half we executed really well but it was just that stretch about midway through the second half we kind of lost some kids and Frank hit a couple of big threes for them and it got to about a 10-point deficit and just hung around there,” Thovson said. “We ran out of gas a little bit but the kids played hard and Wabasso is really a good ballclub.”
Wabasso (20-3) will face LQPV on Tuesday in the Section 3A North semifinals at SMSU at 7:30 p.m. Canby finishes its season at 8-17.
Dolan said their biggest takeaway will be to continue to work hard and just stick to their gameplan.
“I just think we have to keep working hard every single minute and it’s a full-court game and you play for 36 minutes and Lac qui Parle Valley is Lac qui Parle Valley,” Dolan said. “We play our game and see how it goes.”