The Free Press, Mankato, MN


March 10, 2014

NRHEG overcomes WEM slow-down strategy

MANKATO — Back in the day, you probably heard stories of when the local basketball team, facing a seemingly unbeatable opponent, used a stall tactic to lower the score and keep the game close, hopefully pulling out the victory in the final seconds.

Remember? Or was it a tall tale?

On Tuesday, Waterville-Elysian-Morristown did its best not to score, and it almost worked.

“I don’t usually look at the score, but I looked up a couple of times and got pretty nervous,” New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva senior Paige Overgaard said. “But I knew we’d figure it out.”

NRHEG defeated WEM 45-34 in the championship game of the Section 2AA, South Subsection girls basketball tournament at Minnesota State University. It was the defending state champions’ 57th straight victory, but the Panthers’ previous low score was 64 and margin of victory was under 25 for only the second time this season, including a 67-60 victory over Kenyon-Wanamingo.

“That’s the best I’ve ever seen anyone hold the ball like that,” NRHEG coach John Schultz said. “It’s a big floor. It’s tough to trap. ... The girls that they’d walk through this one, but they found out they were in a game pretty quick.”

The Buccaneers, who lost top NRHEG by 36 and 35 points in the regular season, won the opening tip and took two minutes off the clock before a turnover. WEM didn’t attempt a shot, which was blocked until five minutes had passed, and when the first basket went in, with 10:05 remaining in the first half, the score was tied at 2.

Carlie Wagner scored consecutive baskets, and it looked like the Panthers had some momentum, up 6-2, but the Bucs had three three-point plays, the final one by Erika Olson tied the game at 13 with 3:30 left in the half. Kamryn Kendall’s breakaway layup actually put WEM up 15-13.

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