Pete's Point: Patriots, Hawley have a quality rivalry
The Pequot Lakes Patriots and Hawley Nuggets girls’ basketball teams have become consistent rivals on the basketball court in Subsection or Section 8AA title games in four of the past five seasons.
The rivalry started when Hawley eliminated the Patriots in the Subsection 8AA final in March 2010. The next year, Pequot Lakes downed the Nuggets for the subsection title before beating East Grand Forks in the section final. Pequot Lakes then edged Hawley in three overtimes to capture the 2011-12 section title. The teams didn’t face each other last season, but reunited last Friday when the Patriots rallied in the second half to down Hawley 81-64 in the section final at Concordia College in Moorhead.
“It seems like we play them every year,” Pequot Lakes head coach Jon Dale said of the Nuggets. “There is a mutual respect for each other’s program, and that makes it more exciting. Hawley has been a winning program forever.”
But the last three matchups have been won by the Patriots, who have also built a winning tradition with six section titles in girls’ program history, including three in the past four years.
“Pequot Lakes has a very good program,” said Hawley coach Bill Gottenborg, “but I don’t think our girls came into (last Friday’s game) thinking, ‘Oh, no, we’re playing Pequot Lakes.’ It wasn’t intimidation. (Pequot Lakes) was just better than us.”
Gottenborg added that this matchup with the Patriots was different from the section final loss in 2011-12.
“Rebounding was the difference when (Pequot Lakes) beat us in triple overtime,” he said, “but this time they had the advantage in rebounding and scoring. I don’t think we were as quick defensively as we should have been.”
Dale agreed that this matchup was different.
“We had such contradicting styles,” said Dale, whose team advanced to face New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva in the Class AA state quarterfinals on Wednesday, March 19. “(Hawley) normally likes to slow the game down and keep the final score in the 30s. So I was surprised when the score was 38-36 at the half. I’ve never seen the side of Hawley where they pushed the ball up the floor and attacked the basket like they did. No matter how much we scored, we couldn’t turn around and stop them.”
The second half was different as the Patriots made defensive adjustments.
“We were mostly playing person-to-person defense in the first half,” Dale said. “We changed to a couple different (zone) looks in the second half, and that gave us some breathing room to build a lead.”
The Nuggets became tired in the second half, especially after winning in double-overtime against Breckenridge in their subsection final three days earlier.
“I think in the long run it took its toll,” Gottenborg said of the subsection win. “We weren’t as sharp in the second half (against the Patriots). We were worn down. Pequot Lakes was able to continue scoring, and we weren’t able to keep up. We just couldn’t stop them.”
Gottenborg was impressed with the Patriots’ squad, especially pointing out senior Vanessa Lane, who averages almost 20 points per game this season.
“(Lane) was really explosive with her rebounding and jumping ability,” Gottenborg said. “She’s the type of player we haven’t seen during the year.”
Against Hawley, Lane finished with 23 points and 16 rebounds while senior teammates Katie White finished with 20 points and Kayla Miller 18. But those three starters will have graduated next season while Hawley’s entire starting lineup, which includes four juniors, will return.
“We had a lot of things fall into place this year, and I’m thankful to have a good group coming back next year,” said Gottenborg, whose team finished 21-7 overall, “but there’s a lot of good teams coming back next year. There should be good competition in both of our subsections, and I wouldn’t count Pequot Lakes out next year.”
If recent history repeats it could be another Hawley against Pequot Lakes matchup for next year’s section final.