New London-Spicer has long commanded major respect in girls basketball. That reputation isn't going to be dented at all this year.
On Saturday (3/8) they advanced past Minnewaska Area, the team that ended the season for our MACA Tigers. The Tigers were seeded fourth in sub-section, one notch above 'Waska, but that didn't help. Nor did the home court help our Tigers.
Coach Dale Henrich didn't have the answer for our orange and black. Minnewaska took command in that game, then they came up against the "buzz saw" of New London-Spicer in the sub-section semis. The Wildcats were clearly off their best game but it didn't matter. 'Waska couldn't summon the weapons to upset the Wildcats.
The Wildcats entered the weekend ranked fifth in state and showed superiority with their 46-32 win over the Lakers.
Certainly it wasn't an offensive showcase. NL-Spicer star Taylor Thunstedt had nine of her team's 12 turnovers. The Wildcats shot a cool 35 per cent from the field in the first half and it actually got worse from there. Minnewaska actually out-rebounded those 'Cats.
NL-Spicer despite its shortcomings improved to 22-5 on the season. Their Saturday success was on the floor of St. John's University, Collegeville.
Now the 'Cats are focusing on the Section 6AA-South title game which will pit them against Eden Valley-Watkins. Game-time is 6 p.m. Tuesday (3/11) at SJU again.
"Ugly" describes the first half between NL-Spicer and 'Waska. Turnovers were frequent. The Lakers were dogged and stayed in the game for an extended time. In fact, when Laker Bayley Pooler connected for a '3' early in the second half, the score became tied!
The Wildcats bore down to end the suspense after that. The next nine minutes were forgettable for the Lakers. NL-Spicer opened up a ten-point advantage. It's highly unlikely that a Wildcat foe is going to close that kind of gap in the second half.
NL-S is most often a smoothly-operating machine. Thunstedt may have had her fumbles in this game - rare for this standout - but she scored 23 points on the night, 16 coming in the second half. Her 23 points was game-high.
The Lakers went into lapses offensively in the second half, making just six of 31 shots in the half. There was no relief to be found at the freethrow line.
The Lakers had glimmers of hope entering this game. They have no dynastic credentials like NL-S. But their win with ease vs. a quality MACA Tiger team buoyed hopes. They entered Saturday having won seven of ten. Beating our Tigers Thursday was 'Waska's first playoff win since 2009.
We need to start scratching our heads here in Motown and start wondering what might be done to get more post-season success in hoops, boys and girls. Our AD Mark Ekren is a little preoccupied now covering for our absent principal - what a calamity, eh? We have bigger fish to fry with our school now. But let's keep sports on the back-burner.
The Tigers should have had a trip to St. John's.
The pre-trial hearing for our principal, Craig Peterson, is coming up on March 19. Circle that date. Will Nancy Grace be talking about this trial? We'll see. Or, Jane Velez-Mitchell. Or Jean Casarez.
Winning on a down night
New London-Spicer averages 60-plus points a game. The Saturday affair was no reflection of that prowess. Neither team was able to score during the last few minutes of the first half. Yawn. There was no relief early in the second half.
NL-Spicer fans would say all that matters is the final score.
Mike Dreier still has the coaching reins for those Wildcats. He's a legend. He coached there during my newspaper career. Fan Rick Lucken suspected he wore a toupee. A mystery, eh? He certainly coaches winners.
The article in the Willmar newspaper on this game is incredibly detailed. I can't imagine any more than a core group of fans being interested in reading this. It reminded me of the articles that Mike Martin once wrote for the Morris newspaper.
The Willmar paper recently screwed up with how it reported on the two MAHACA wrestlers who were in state. Al Hendrickson told me this morning that one of the two did in fact win a match, whereas the Willmar paper had them coming up winless. Those two grapplers: Travis Ostby and Myles Smith.
I feel bad because I used information from the Willmar paper for my own writing.
Carley Stewart was the only Laker scoring in double figures Saturday, and she managed but ten points. Pooler put up nine. Ashlyn Guggisberg scored six points, Ariel Ostrander five, Emma Middendorf and Madison Phillips two each, and Ashley Blom one.
(No, that doesn't add up to 32 points. The Willmar paper has it wrong.)
Pooler and Stewart each made two 3-point shots, a department where 'Waska struggled with four of 23 numbers. They weren't hesitant about the long-rangers.
Stewart was 'Waska's top rebounder with ten followed by Pooler with nine. Phillips led in assists with four followed by Stewart with three. Pooler and Stewart each had two steals.
Thunstedt with her 23 points was followed on the NL-S scoring list by Ashlyn Geister (8), Bri Fredrick (7), Petra Lothert (4), and Olivia Setterberg and Kabrie Weber each with two.
Megan Thorson led the 'Cats in rebounds with nine. Fredrick stole the ball four times.
Thunstedt had three of the team's five 3-pointers. Fredrick and Lothert each connected once from three-point land.
Minnewaska got just three freethrow attempts and made two, while NL-Spicer had the most robust numbers of 11-for-16.
Thunstedt was quoted in the Willmar paper saying "Once it started clicking, everything turned out fine." Many Morris residents are likely thinking the same on behalf of our high school principal for the upcoming trial (for sexual assault). Tune in to HLN?
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - firstname.lastname@example.org