PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL: Vikings roll over BOLD in season opener

Photo by Emily Daniels Minneota’s Abby Hennen follows through on a free-throw attempt as Lizzy Gillingham looks on during their game against BOLD on Tuesday. The Vikings defeated the Warriors 85-50 to start the season.

MINNEOTA – The last time the BOLD Warriors and Minneota Vikings played each other, the Warriors came out with the victory. This time it was the same game, different result as the Vikings got out to an early lead and never gave it up en route to a 85-50 win on Tuesday night to start the season.

Going into the new season, head coach Chad Johnston is looking forward to the season knowing that they have a tough schedule ahead of them.

“We’ve got a tough schedule, our expectations are high. Looking onto the week, on Thursday we play YME and Friday night is Hayfield, who is ranked third in the state,” said Johnston. “We’ve got a lot of girls who can shoot the ball, we want to have little bit more balance with ball handling. That is going to be key for us.”

The Vikings started off the night with the first points on the board, just five seconds into the game and jumped out to an 8-0 start. BOLD found themselves holding back on offense with the Vikings strong defense, but the Warriors broke out of their shell and came out to put four points on the board. With just a few minutes passing by, Minneota found their way to the basket to extend their lead to 15-8. Junior forward Lizzy Gillingham came alive on the 3-point and free-throw line with just nine minutes left of the first half to put the Vikings up 19-10. Gillingham contributed another basket to make it 21-18, which was shortly followed by a 3-point basket by teammate Abby Hennen. The Vikings reached a 20-point lead with just 1:34 left in the half, a lead that would hold at halftime.

In the first half the Vikings never let the Warriors take the lead away from them and went into the second half with the same mindset. Junior guard Morgan Kockelman found an opportunity to shoot from the arc, getting a 3-pointer to go to make it 52-28. Gillingham put her first points up in the second half with 14:41 left, as Gillingham and Kockelman’s baskets set the pace for the Vikings’ strong offense in the second half, continuing to pull ahead from the Warriors at 63-35. Minneota continued to play strong on offense, never letting BOLD catch up. Hennen caught fire on the 3-point line, finishing the second half with three total. The Vikings finished off the half with a 35-point lead over the Warriors, coming out with a convincing 85-50 win.

Gillingham led the Vikings, racking in a total of 21 points, followed by Kockelman and Morgan Hennen with 13 points each. The Vikings ended the night with 55 rebounds and nine assists. They shot 32 of 80 from the field and 9 of 19 at the free-throw line.

Gillingham and her teammates are excited for the season to start, as they’ve been waiting to get back out on the court and play again.

“We just wanted to be back out on the court again, and we all get to play. Last year there were a lot of seniors but this year the returners have to fill those bigger roles that the seniors had,” said Gillingham. “We’ve been working on being more aggressive, doing the things we can control like boxing out, playing good defense, hustling and being ready and also learning to play offense against different defenses.”

The Vikings will return to action on Thursday at YME High School and Friday back home against Hayfield High School.

Going into the rest of the season, Johnston wants the girls to continue working well together and doing their individual jobs on the court.

“These girls work well together, they do things on the court that show that they are almost always on the same page,” said Johnston. “There are some things that we haven’t practiced all year and they did it better tonight then they do at practice. They’re all on the same page right now and hopefully it can stay that way and continue to build off of it.”

BOLD 26 24-50

Minneota 46 39-85

SCORING: Minneota 32-80, 40 percent (Gillingham 9-16, 1-2 21; Kockelman 5-15, 1-3 13; M. Hennen 5-10, 1-2 13; A. Hennen 4-10, 0-1 12; Sussner 4-10 3-6 11; Rolbiecki 3-9, 3-5 10; Muhl 1-6, 0-0 3; Moorse 1-1, 0-0 2).

3-POINT FGS: Minneota 12-27, 44.4 percent (A. Hennen 4; Kockelman, Gillingham, M. Hennen 2; Muhl, Rolbiecki 1).

REBOUNDS: Minneota 55 (Sussner 15; M. Hennen 10; Gillingham 9; A. Hennen 6; Rolbiecki, Rost 4; Muhl 3; Kockelman, Moorse 2).

ASSISTS: Minneota 9 (A. Hennen 5; M. Hennen 2; Muhl, Sussner 1).

STEALS: Minneota 13 (Sussner 4; A. Hennen, Rolbiecki, Rost 2; M. Hennen, Kockelman, Muhl 1).

BLOCKS: Minneota 1 (A. Hennen).

FOULS: Minneota 18.

TURNOVERS: Minneota 21.