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Girls Basketball: Otters’ guards too much for Patriots in state quarters

Pequot Lakes vs Fergus Falls in the Class 2A State Quarterfinals

A Pequot Lakes girls basketball player drives to the basket.jpg
Pequot Lakes Patriots Kelsi Martini drives to the basket Wednesday, March 16, 2022, during the Class 2A State Quarterfinals against Fergus Falls at Maturi Pavilion in Minneapolis.
Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro!
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MINNEAPOLIS — Fergus Falls’ Ellie Colbeck and Tori Ratz combined for 47 points as the No. 2 seeded Otters knocked off the Pequot Lakes Patriots 71-55 in the Class 2A State Quarterfinals Wednesday, March 16, at the Maturi Pavilion on the campus of University of Minnesota.

Colbeck finished with 25 points on 11-of-17 shooting to go with eight assists and six steals. Meanwhile, Ratz knocked down five 3-pointers as Pequot struggled with the Otters’ backcourt.

“Those two have spent hours and hours in the gym perfecting their shot,” Fergus Falls head coach Josh Steer said of his two senior guards. “They’ve been playing varsity basketball now for five years and they are gym rats. It’s been fun to watch them develop.”

Pequot Lakes tried playing zone and man-to-man defense, but the Otters still shot 54% from the field and 47% from 3-point.

“We tried to locate them man or zone,” Pequot Lakes head coach Brian Lempola said. “We tried to find them early and we did not find them early a couple times.”

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The Patriots were led by three players who finished with 14 points each.

Maci Martini ripped down five boards to go with 14 points. Kelsi Martini was another Patriot with 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Isbael Larson was the third Pequot player with 14.

A basketball player drives to the basket.jpg
Pequot Lakes Patriots Isabel Larson is fouled driving to the basket Wednesday, March 16, 2022, during the Class 2A girls basketball State Quarterfinal against Fergus Falls at Maturi Pavilion in Minneapolis.
Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro!

Lauren Schultz chipped in eight points and Ella Kratochvil five as the only Patriot scorers.

The Otters only led 32-25 at halftime despite shooting 50% from 3.

“We went into half optismits thinking if we could hit a few shots to get back in it and it didn’t quite go our way,” Lempola said. “Some nights are like that. The girls have won 24 in a row and have had a heck of a season and there’s no easy ones (at state).”

The Patriots jumped a 7-0 lead to start the game with Maci Martini drilling one of her two 3-pointers.

“There was a figuring-each-other-out period to start the game and we got off to a better start than we got off to in the section final,” Lempola said. “Defensively, we just broke down at times and we didn’t get enough ball pressure and located shooters.”

Schultz had five points in that 7-0 start for the Patriots.

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“All year we’ve been working on making our start better and faster,” Schultz said. “This game that goal was completed.”

Fergus Falls stormed back with an 11-0 run led by three straight 3-pointers and a Ratz layup.

“(Pequot Lakes) came out very well defensively and knocked down some shots early,” Steer said. “I was hoping our girls would weather the storm and buckle in defensively and I thought they did a good job of responding early.”

Ratz rattled in four first-half 3-pointers and finished with 15 first-half points. Her backcourt mate wasn’t far behind with 12 first-half points, five assists and four steals. The two combined for 27 of Fergus Falls’ 32 first-half points.

The Otters mained a first-half lead and stretched it all the way to a nine-point lead at 27-18 after a Colbeck steal and layup.

“Pequot Lakes plays that zone really well and getting (Colbeck) into some space in the middle of that zone was a plan that we had in our back pocket and when we get the ball in there she’s a really good decision maker,” Steer said.

Maci Martini and Schultz each responded with 3s as the Patriots went on a 7-0 run to cut the Otter lead to two.

Fergus Falls ended the first half on a 5-0 run with Brynn Sternberg drilling a 3-pointer right in front of the halftime buzzer.

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The Patriots will be in the consolation semifinals Thursday night against Crystal Lake 8 p.m. at Concordia University in St. Paul.

“It's something to build on,” Lempola said. “I think we see where we need to get to and level up and I have full faith in our girls that we are going to get there.”

Kelsi Martini and Schultz described their first taste at state as a positive one for their young team.

“Being down here will for sure help us in future years,” Kelsi Martini said.

Fergus Falls 32 39 — 71

Pequot Lakes 25 30 — 55

FERGUS FALLS

Ellie Colbeck 25, Karley Braeger 2, Brynn Sternberg 6, Ainsley Hansen 7, Tori Ratz 22, Cyntreya Lockett 5, Hannah Polejewski 4. FG 28-52 (54%), FT 6-9 (67%). 3-point 9-19 (47%).

PEQUOT LAKES

Isabel Larson 14, Kelsi Martini 14, Maci Martini 14, Lauren Schultz 8, Ella Kratochvil 5. FG 18-45 (40%), FT 11-14 (79%). 3-point 8-23 (35%).

No. 2 Fergus Falls 71, Pequot Lakes 55
Key: Fergus Falls’ guards combine for 47 points in win over Pequot Lakes.
Overall: PL 29-2, FF 25-5.
Next: Pequot Lakes vs. Lake Crystal 8 p.m. Thursday, March 17, at Concordia University in St. Paul.

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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