By Chad Courrier
Free Press Staff Writer
Claire Ziegler plays for Mankato East, not for Glencoe-Silver Lake.
That was the difference Tuesday as the Cougars won 50-40 in the quarterfinals of the Section 2AAA girls basketball playoffs at the East gym.
“Claire had a huge night,” East coach Mike Barger said. “Thank goodness for Claire.”
Glencoe-Silver Lake, the seventh seed, was patient against the zone in the first half, and even though the Panthers had 11 turnovers, the Cougars weren’t able to get any sustained offense.
Ziegler had five straight points that put East up 8-5 after seven minutes, and Abby Connell’s 3-pointer started an eight point run late in the half, though Glencoe-Silver Lake pulled within 18-15 by halftime.
East was 2 of 8 from 3-point range and 2 of 9 on free throws in the first half.
“We knew that they liked to slow it down,” Ziegler said. “We are a fastbreak team, but they did a good job of slowing us down.”
Ziegler dominated the second half, scoring 22 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Taylor Karge’s 3-pointer made it 37-29, and Ziegler had a six-point run that pushed it to 46-36 with two minutes to play.
“Defensively, we played well all game,” Barger said. “We just couldn’t score. I told the girls we’d have to play good defense to win, I just didn’t know it would be that important.”
Ziegler had all but eight of East’s points in the second half, finishing with a career-high 34 points with 15 rebounds. Karge scored seven points and Minnie Frederick, limping noticeably with a bum ankle, scored six.
Clarissa Ober had 13 points and 15 rebounds for Glencoe-Silver Lake (9-17).
East (22-4) plays in the section semifinals at 7:45 p.m. Saturday against Marshall or Hutchinson at Gustavus Adolphus.
“I think we just have to come out and play hard,” Ziegler said. “Hopefully, we can build on this.”