PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL: No. 1 Minneota hangs on against No. 4 BBE 42-38 in ranked showdown
MINNEOTA — When the Minneota and Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa girls basketball teams met last year, it went down to the wire with the Vikings edging the Jaguars by a point, 45-44. With both teams holding Top 5 rankings and 9-0 records, No. 1 Minneota and No. 4 BBE squared off Saturday looking to keep its perfect season intact.
It was another back-and-forth showdown, with 10 total lead changes and six ties, but the top-ranked Vikings took a one-point lead into halftime before keeping BBE at bay in the final minutes to earn a 42-38 victory.
Minneota senior guard Abby Hennen said after facing BBE last year, they knew things weren’t going to come easy on offense for their team and was pleased with how they adjusted throughout the game.
“We knew that BBE was going to be really tough on defense and up in our face because we played them last year and it was the same type of thing,” Hennen said. “We knew that we weren’t going to be able to drive to the basket as easy without getting bumped around or having help-side defense step in, and we also knew their post was going to be a shot-blocker, so that was kind of difficult just going away from our normal style of play, but it was still really fun to play them and I’m glad we got them on our schedule because we only learn from these types of games.”
Minneota took the lead early, going up 8-3 on a 3-pointer by McKenzie Tolk, but BBE answered with a 12-2 run, including getting a 3-point play and a 3-pointer to take a 15-10 lead midway through the first half. The Vikings kept battling, though, as layups from Natalee Rolbiecki and Jeren Rost cut the deficit to three before Abby Hennen got a layup and later a pair of free throws to give Minneota the lead back at 18-17 with 2:56 left in the half. BBE would then score a layup, but Hennen responded with a 3-point play with a minute to go and Minneota held a 21-20 lead going into halftime.
The back-and-forth action continued throughout the second half, with the two teams trading several baskets early on. Minneota got a pair of baskets to start the frame, but BBE answered with a 3-pointer and a layup to take a 29-27 lead with 12:15 left. In need of a spark, the Vikings found it with their defensive play, as Minneota held the Jaguars scoreless for the next six minutes. Meanwhile, the Vikings put together a string of baskets during that stretch, with Rolbiecki getting a layup and a 3-pointer to help Minneota take a 35-29 advantage with 7:42 left.
After BBE got back on the board with a pair of free throws, Minneota responded with a layup from McKenna Yost before an Abby Hennen 3-pointer gave the Vikings their largest lead of the afternoon at 42-33 with 4:40 to go. The Jaguars would draw to within four on a 3-point play with 2:37 to play, but weren’t able to get any closer, as Minneota held on for the tight victory.
Abby Hennen led Minneota with 14 points while Rolbiecki added 13 and Abby Rost had eight. Abby Rost led in rebounds with seven while Abby Hennen led in assists with three. As a team, Minneota shot 30% (15 of 50) from the field, including making 8 of its 15 free-throw attempts.
Minneota coach Chad Johnston said he felt they did a better job in the second half of being ready to shoot when they drove it into the lane and found an open player on the perimeter.
“One of the things that we talked about was as much as they [BBE] play pressure defense, they do a great job of helping against dribble penetration. Although what I didn’t think we did very well with in the first half was we would dribble penetrate, get collapsed a little bit and we would kick it to a girl who wasn’t ready to shoot or we would be open and go dribble inside where everyone was,” Johnston said. “We emphasized getting ready to shoot the outside shot; McKenzie hit one in the first half that was huge, Natalee has been kind of struggling from the 3-point line and has been a little frustrated, she hit two key threes for us and they weren’t going to allow Abby Hennen wide open shots. They did a good job on her, so other girls have to step up if they’re going to try and take somebody away and we hit some key shots when we needed to.”
Defensively, Minneota held BBE to 33.3% shooting (15 of 45), including 3 of 13 from 3-point range.
Minneota (10-0) will play at RTR today at 7:15 p.m.
No. 1 Minneota 42, No. 4 BBE 38
BBE 20 18 – 38
Minneota 21 21 – 42
Scoring: Minneota (A. Hennen 4-14, 5-5 14; Rolbiecki 5-13, 1-6 13; A. Rost 3-10, 2-3 8; Tolk 1-3, 0-0 3; J. Rost 1-4, 0-0 2; Yost 1-3, 0-1 2).
Rebounds: Minneota 26 (A. Rost 7; Rolbiecki 5; A. Hennen, Yost 4).
Assists: Minneota 9 (A. Hennen 3; A. Rost, Yost 2; Jurrens, J. Rost 1).
Steals: Minneota 8 (A. Hennen 3; A. Rost, Tolk 2; J. Rost 1).
Blocks: Minneota 2 (A. Hennen).