The Free Press, Mankato, MN

March 8, 2013

NRHEG girls blow past St. Peter to reach state

By Denny Weller
Special to The Free Press

MANKATO — There’s no doubt junior guard Carlie Wagner is New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva’s go-to player, but Friday’s 96-61 rout of St. Peter in the Section 2AA title game at Bresnan Arena also showed off the Panthers’ supporting cast.

Wagner, who is headed to play for the University of Minnesota in two years, tied a career-high 50 points as the Panthers improved to 29-1 on the season heading into Wednesday’s 8 p.m. Class AA quarterfinal game against Pelican Rapids at Williams Arena.

While Wagner was spectacular in every facet of the game, ending up with seven rebounds, 10 assists and six steals, her teammates were just as impressive on both ends of the court. Eighth-grade guard Marnie Wagner put through 17 points and junior center Paige Overgaard tallied 12 points and six boards.

“Our supporting cast was great tonight and that’s what opened it up for Carlie,” NRHEG coach John Schultz said. “Our offense clicks when our defense clicks. What we did with our pressure and pushing the ball jump starts our offense, which makes it easier for us to function. Our half court was good too by bringing kids out and rushing the basket.

“Our first trap at midcourt was good and that gave them trouble. We take advantage of Carlie’s ability to go to the hole and when she gets stopped she kicks it out and we can hits threes.”

St. Peter (22-6) hung with the high-flying Panthers in the early stages as senior forward Tailor Raymond’s putback five minutes into the contest had the Saints within 14-12. However, Marnie Wagner’s right-side 3-pointer triggered a 16-0 run that produced a 30-12 lead on Carlie Wagner’s top-of-the-key triple with 10:27 to go.

NRHEG’s half-court trap helped force 18 first-half turnovers, which turned into 22 Panther points. Carlie Wagner’s slashing drives to the hoop, medium-range pull-up jumpers and solid free-throw shooting accounted for 31 first-half points. The Panthers led 54-31 at the break and continued to dominate over the final 18 minutes.

“I think our confidence was a big thing tonight,” Carlie Wagner said. “We worked very hard on defense and the shots fell for us. We really got out on them defensively and didn’t let them breath. Our trap was tenacious.

“Our goal was to get out on them and put a lot of pressure on them with our trap. Coach told me I had to drive and if it wasn’t open to dish it off to my teammates. These girls are phenomenal and they mean the world to me. We’re together every day and we’re best friends on and off the court. ... I couldn’t ask for anyone better than them.”

St. Peter was led by senior forward Kelsey Carpenter with 14 points. Sophomore guard Logan Retzlaff and senior guard Lydia Kennedy had identical 10-point, five-rebound games for the Saints. Sophomore center Olivia Hass chipped in eight points and a team-best six rebounds.

“They hurt us with the trap in the corner,” St. Peter coach Bob Southworh said. “We talked about it in our one day at practice but we just didn’t handle it very well. They’ve got other kids besides Carlie who can play and what makes them such a good team is they’re really aggressive. They’re very active, quick and aggressive, that’s what makes their trap successful.”