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Girls Basketball: Larson’s 20 points leads Pequot Lakes to state

Pequot Lakes vs Pierz in the Section 7-2A Final March 11

Pequot Lakes girls basketball players celebrate winning.
The Pequot Lakes girls basketball team celebrates after beating Pierz Friday, March 11, 2022, during the Section 7-2A Championship game at Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — Pequot Lakes is going back to state.

Shooting 9-for-18 from 3-point range the top-seeded Patriots beat the No. 3 seed Pierz Pioneers 70-54 in the Section 7-2A Final Friday, March 11, at Brainerd High School.

Four different Patriots were in double figures with Isabel Larson leading the way with 20 points.

“It was a great balance and it was our style of game tonight,” Pequot Lakes head coach Brian Lempola said. “We were getting up and down and moving the basketball and they just kept working until they found the open person and the best team shot.”

Pequot Lakes held a 38-30 lead at the end of the first half, and went on a 11-0 run to start the second half to take its largest lead of the game 49-30.

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Kelsi Martini scored 18 points for the Patriots, including four 3-pointers. Her sister Maci Martini tallied 11 points.

“Those Martinis are special players,” Pierz head coach Matt Poepping said. “They were hot from 3 and we didn’t do a good job of closing out.”

Pierz was led by Kiara Olesch and Alyssa Sadlovsky who each scored 15 points and Katie Leidenfrost with 12. The Pioneers only had six field goals in the second half and they were all 3-pointers.

“Kiara’s been our best player all year and she showed it tonight,” Poepping said. “Alyssa’s been our best shooter and she had a great game, too. Katie Leidenfrost played her butt off too and that’s what you expect from your seniors.”

Pequot Lakes used a zone press which forced the Pioneers into turnovers which sparked Pequot Lakes runs. Lempola said the hot shooting also helps.

“We knew coming into the game that we were going to have to knock some shots down from beyond the perimeter,” Lempola said. “Watching tape, we knew we were going to get them. The fact of the matter was just getting set and finding them.”

The Pioneers showed life in the second half when an 8-0 run cut Pequot’s lead to 54-44.

The balanced attack by the Patriots was too much as they pulled away in the last minutes. Ella Kratochvil finished with 14 points to be the fourth Pequot player in double figures.

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Pierz opened the game on a 8-0 run when Leidenfrost had five points and Olesch had a three-point play for the Pioneers’ fast start.

“We were feeling really good,” Poepping said of the quick start. “We shot the ball well and got to the bucket a little bit. Then they put that 1-2-2 press on us to get back in it and they controlled the game from midway in the first half.”

The Pioneers held onto their first-half lead until the 7:41 left when four Maci Martini free throws gave the Patriots their first lead at 16-15.

“There’s nothing that really rattles this team,” Lempola said. “We have been in tight spots before in the summer and last season. They are just an outstanding crew that’s going to find a way to win.”

Pierz hung around before Pequot ended the first half on a 12-7 run and Morgan Eckes scored a layup at the buzzer.

The Patriots shot 47% from the field and held Pierz to just 32% shooting. The last time Pequot Lakes went to state was 2016.

“We are super excited and the kids are going to enjoy this one tonight and we’ll get back to work tomorrow,” Lempola said.

Pierz 30 24 — 54

Pequot Lakes 38 32 — 70

PIERZ

Katie Leidenfrost 12, Britney Schommer 7, Kiara Olesch 15, Ashley Kimman 2, Lily Riley 3, Alyssa Sadlovsky 15. FG 18-57 (32%), FT 10-19 (53%). 3-point 8-24 (33%).

PEQUOT LAKES

Isabel Larson 20, Kelsi Martini 18, Maci Martini 11, Morgan Eckes 2, Lauren Schultz 5, Ella Kratochvil 14. FG 24-51 (47%), FT (68%). 3-point 9-18 (50%).

No. 1 Pequot Lakes 70, No. 3 Pierz 54
Key: Balance scoring and hot shooting for Patriots gets them to state.
Overall: Prz 23-7, PL 29-1
Next: Pequot Lakes in the Class 2A State Tournament TBA Wednesday, March 16.

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CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or conrad.engstrom@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.

Started at the Dispatch in June of 2019.
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