SECTION 3A GIRLS BASKETBALL: No. 4 Rabbits can’t get past No. 2 Eagles

Photo by Sam Thiel Wabasso’s Madison Guetter tries to drive past a Lac qui Parle Valley defender during their Section 3A North semifinal game on Tuesday.

MARSHALL – The Wabasso girls basketball team looked to contain the red-hot scoring Lac qui Parle Valley during their Section 3A North Semifinal game on Tuesday night at SMSU. The Rabbits were able to break down a double-digit halftime deficit, but couldn’t ultimately overcome it as LQPV defeated Wabasso 65-49.

It was a back-and-forth start as the game was deadlocked at 5-5 before a 3-pointer by LQPV’s Kelsey Lund gave the Eagles a 10-5 lead with 13 minutes left in the first half. The Rabbits struggled keeping possessions clean early in the game, as the Eagles took advantage of Wabasso’s turnovers and would get a 3-point play from Lund to push LQPV’s lead to double digits at 19-9 with 9:36 left.

The Rabbits wouldn’t go away, however, as back-to-back 3-pointers from Jenna Frank and Madison Guetter gave Wabasso a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to four with 7:30 to go. But each basket the Rabbits were able to connect on was almost instantly matched by the Eagles’ offense who quickly built their advantage back to nine points at 24-15 with 5:35 remaining.

Both teams would trade points the rest of the half but LQPV was able to take a double digit lead heading into the locker rooms at 35-24.

In the second half, the Rabbits were able to work their way back to a single digit deficit with a 3-point play from Frank, but the Eagles responded with a 3-pointer and a 3-point play of their own on back-to-back possessions to make it 46-31 with 14 minutes left.

LQPV would maintain its double-digit lead throughout the majority of the second half, but Wabasso wasn’t ready to go down without a fight. The Rabbits were able to cut the deficit down to 11 before a 3-pointer from Sarah Franta made it an eight-point game at 49-41 with 5:40 to go, but LQPV quickly answered with a 3-pointer of its own to push it back to 11.

A 3-point play from Guetter would cut it back to eight at 55-47 with 3:25 to play before the Wabasso center got a coast-to-coast layup to drop make it a six-point game with 2:23 left.

A pair of free throws from Lund made it 57-49 with 1:54 to go, and after a turnover on the other end by the Rabbits, Lund would be fouled again and connected on two more free throws to push it back to 10, and Wabasso couldn’t get any closer, as the Eagles advanced with a 65-49 victory.

Wabasso coach Neil Dolan was proud of the way his team continued to fight throughout the game and show resiliency against a good LQPV team.

“That’s a very good team. We had them a little on the ropes and the effort that we put forth was what we needed,” Dolan said. “They played great and Lund shot great and you can’t take anything away from her or that team. But it was still an 11-point game at half and we had a chance, but you can’t fault the effort.”

Guetter led the way for the Rabbits with 19 points while Frank added 16 and Allison Fenger had eight. Guetter led in rebounds with seven while Gina Goblirsch led in assists with four. Dolan said their key on offense was getting the ball inside to Guetter as well as being able to hit shots when needed.

“We struggled a little bit to start, but Maddy was a force for us and she was able to do things inside and made things happen,” Dolan said. “Our shooting was okay and we hit some threes but we shot well enough to be in the game and you can’t fault that.”

LQPV will move on to face Minneota in the Section 3A North Championship game on Friday at 8 p.m. at SMSU. Wabasso finishes its season with a 20-4 record and graduates four seniors in Goblirsch, Kayla Jenniges, Emily Benz and Lindsey Bernardy.

Dolan said the group of seniors will be tough to replace but is looking forward to the group of players returning next season.

“We had a great group of seniors,” Dolan said. “They left us with a nice 20-4 legacy that the girls can go and build off of and we’ve got a good core coming back, but you can’t replace the heart of those seniors because this was a different group and they were great leaders and leaders are hard to replace.”

Wabasso 24 25-49

LQPV 35 30-65

Scoring: Wabasso (Guetter 19; Frank 16; Fenger 8; Franta 3; Nelson 3).

Rebounds: Wabasso 14 (Guetter 7; Fenger 3).

Assists: Wabasso 16 (Goblirsch 4, Bernardy, Nelson 3).

Steals: Wabasso 7 (Bernardy, Fenger 2).

Blocks: Wabasso 4 (Guetter, Goblirsch, Bernardy, Fenger 1).