Patriots defeat Nuggets for title
Girls’ basketball teams look for someone to step up when they need to get the job done. Pequot Lakes coach Jon Dale go that from his trio of seniors – Katie White, Vanessa Lane and Kayla Miller – in the Section 8AA final against Hawley on Friday, March 14.
The trio combined for 61 points as the Patriots pulled away in the second half for an 81-64 win over the Nuggets at Concordia College in Moorhead. The seniors earned a third trip to the state tournament, which started at 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 19, with a quarterfinal game against top-seeded New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva at the University of Minnesota’s Mariucci Arena.
In the section final, Lane led the Patriots with 23 points and 16 rebounds while White added 20 points and six boards and Miller had 18 points.
“The girls weren’t going to be denied this year,” said Dale, who improved to 23-6 overall. “After it was close for the entire first half, and we only led (38-36) at the half, the three seniors stepped it up both offensively and defensively to get the job done.”
Dale said his squad changed its defensive tactics in the second half.
“We played some of our best defense of the year,” said Dale, who added Hawley’s Olivia Olson scored 17 points in the first half “but we shut her down in the second half without a point.”
The first half was tied seven times while the lead changed hands 13 times before intermission. Pequot Lakes then outscored the Nuggets 43-28 in the second half, including making 14 of their final 16 shots from the free-throw line.
“It’s amazing that we’re going back to state,” Lane said. “That was our goal from the start of the season. I think that we had a little more incentive to get there, and we really had a good team effort.”
White added it was special to be going to state as seniors.
“When we were freshmen, we looked up to the seniors,” she said. “So we wanted to give that back to this year’s freshmen players, and now we did that, which was one of our goals.”
Neither team led by more than two points in the see-saw affair in the first 11 minutes. Eventually the Patriots built a seven-point lead on two baskets by Lane to make it 27-20. White later nailed a 3-point shot to make it 32-25 with 5:12 left. However, the rest of the half the Nuggets outscored the Patriots 11-6 behind six points from sophomore Mira Ellefson to make the score close at halftime.
A layup by Emilee Buell and a steal by Lane put the Patriots up by 42-36 to start the second half. But Hawley stayed in striking distance, although Pequot Lakes did lead 54-44 after baskets by Lane and Miller.
Jody Noreen then hit a 3-pointer before the Patriots answered with a three-point play by Miller followed by a backbreaking 3-pointer by White to make it 62-47 with 10:22 left. The Nuggets would never recover as Pequot Lakes spent most of the remainder of the game at the free-throw line.
“We did a nice job handling the ball in the last few minutes when we were trying to take time off the clock,” Dale said. “(Hawley) is a good team that will be one of the favorites next year as they don’t have a senior on their roster.
Ellefson finished with 24 points, Olson added 17 and Noreen 14 for the Nuggets, who finish 21-7 overall after having their 15-game winning streak snapped.
Hawley 36 28 — 64
Pequot Lakes 38 43 — 81
Jody Noreen 14, Olivia Olson 17, Karyssa Hovelson 3, Mira Ellefson 24, Brittany Laddusaw 2, Shay Mattfeld 2, Krista Rennecke 2. FG 22-47 (47 percent). FT 15-21 (62 percent). 3-point 5-13 (38 percent).
Caitie Ryan 4, Haley Wiebolt 10, Vanessa Lane 23, Emilee Buell 4, Katie White 20, Kayla Miller 18, Jessica Faacks 2. FG 30-58 (52 percent). FT 19-31 (61 percent). 3-point 2-8 (25 percent).