PREP GIRLS' BASKETBALL: Raiders tame Dragons 67-55FULDA — Finishing the first half on an 11-0 run and riding a 26-point performance from Courtney Hulstein Friday night, the Fulda Raiders claimed a 67-55 victory over the Adrian Dragons in a key Red Rock Conference high school girls’ basketball game featuring the two rival squads in front of a packed house.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
FULDA — Finishing the first half on an 11-0 run and riding a 26-point performance from Courtney Hulstein Friday night, the Fulda Raiders claimed a 67-55 victory over the Adrian Dragons in a key Red Rock Conference high school girls’ basketball game featuring the two rival squads in front of a packed house.
Fulda (18-5, 13-1), which trailed 18-12 at the 5:33 mark of the first half, rallied to take a 32-23 halftime lead and stretched the margin to as large as 17 points (65-48) with 2:40 remaining in the second half to effectively win for the 18th time in the last 21 meetings between the perennial area powers.
“I’m very happy with this win over our rival in what was a tournament-like atmosphere,” Fulda head coach Gregg Slaathaug said after the game. “Coaches, players and fans from both sides were really into this one, and we had a lot of girls step up and respond to the challenge, contributing to a great team victory against a very solid ballclub.”
Rachel Cheadle (15 points, 12 rebounds) and Tiffany Gehl (10 points, eight rebounds and three steals) also scored in double figures for Fulda, which held a 37-27 rebounding advantage and forced Adrian to turn the ball over 17 times.
“We had too many empty possessions where we didn’t even get a shot off because we kept turning it over,” summed up Adrian head coach Randy Strand. “Our intensity was good and we competed well, but we had a couple of stretches where we struggled to score and didn’t execute on some things. Fulda is a very good team and outplayed us for the most part.”
Nichole Loosbrock led the Dragons with 20 points. Austyn Thier and Jordin Kopplow were also in double digits with 13 and 11 points, respectively, for Adrian (15-6, 9-5).
Adrian leads for most of the first half, goes up 18-12
With both teams playing man-to-man, half-court defense and running a motion offense, the score remained close throughout the first half.
Sydne Springman (nine points, seven rebounds) scored Adrian’s first seven points on a drive to the hoop, a 3-point play off a strong post move and two free throws — giving the Dragons leads of 2-0 and 5-2 in the first three-plus minutes.
Fulda answered with an interior basket by Hulstein (five rebounds, four steals), a 3-point play from Gehl off an offensive-rebound opportunity and two free throws from Cheadle to take a 7-5 lead at the 14:16 mark.
Adrian regained a 9-7 lead when Springman passed to Thier for an eight-footer along the right baseline with 11:16 to go. Loosbrock then scored the next nine points for the Dragons, who opened up leads of 11-7, 13-8, 16-12 and 18-12.
Loosbrock connected on an 18-footer from the top of the key, scored on a quick drive from the right wing, buried a 3-pointer in transition and nailed a pull-up 12-footer in the lane to put Adrian up by six with 5:33 showing on the clock.
Kopplow later netted a 3-pointer from the right wing to give the Dragons a 21-16 lead, but Fulda’s Melissa Gehl (eight points, seven assists and six rebounds) countered with a trey of her own from out top before Hulstein meshed two free throws to tie it at 21 at the 3:30 mark.
Loosbrock sank two free throws three seconds later to give Adrian a 23-21 lead, but the Dragons didn’t score again the rest of the first half and were stuck on 23 until Rachel Kontz (eight rebounds, five assists) scored on a baseline drive at the 15:57 mark of the second half.
That drought opened the door for Fulda to take control, and the Raiders scored 11 straight points to take a 32-23 lead into the locker room. Hulstein, Tiffany Gehl and Brooke Wenzel (six points) each dropped in two free throws for the first six points in that span.
Melissa Gehl then found Cheadle for a low-post bucket, while Wenzel came up with a loose-ball steal and made a terrific lead pass to Tiffany Gehl for a breakaway layup — plus a foul and free throw for an exciting 3-point play — to shift the momentum in Fulda’s favor.
“We have kind of been in hibernation for the last three weeks, and this was a big game to wake us up a little bit,” Slaathaug said. “I have veteran kids who know what’s going on and know what needs to be done, which we showed during that run to end the first half.”
Hulstein scores 17 second-half points as Fulda pulls away
An offensive-rebound basket by Cheadle and a high-low pass from Melissa Gehl to Cheadle for a hoop down low preceded a 3-point play from Hulstein early in the second half, helping Fulda increase its lead to 39-27 by the 13:21 mark.
Hulstein, who poured in 17 points in the second half and hit just one 3-pointer in at least 10 total attempts, then scored three straight baskets on drives and cuts to put Fulda up 45-31 with 11:02 to play. The third basket in that sequence came on a backdoor cut along the baseline, as she received a nifty bounce pass from Melissa Gehl.
Adrian, though, started to chip away at the deficit and put together an 11-2 spurt to pull within five (47-42) with 8:53 remaining. Loosbrock scored in the paint, and Kopplow dialed in a 3-pointer from the right corner to jumpstart the Dragons’ rally.
Thier (11 second-half points) then got good position in the low-post area for back-to-back buckets, taking passes from Loosbrock and Kontz. Kopplow swished a 17-footer from the left wing to cap Adrian’s nine-point surge a bit later.
Hulstein, though, answered with her only 3-pointer of the night to make it 50-42 with 8:35 to go. Hulstein then passed to Melissa Gehl for a basket on a pick-and-roll play before she converted a steal at midcourt into a layup — extending the gap to 54-42 and forcing an Adrian timeout with 7:43 left.
“We have a lot of confidence in Courtney, and she won’t quit shooting,” Slaathaug said. “She struggled from behind the arc in this game, but she found other ways to score and still made lots of positive things happen for our basketball team.”
Fulda stayed in command the rest of the way, taking a 56-44 lead when Wenzel came off a screen and scored inside at the 6:19 mark. Sariah Cheadle knocked down two free throws to help the Raiders widen the spread to 17 (65-48) by the 2:40 mark.
Loosbrock hit a left-wing 3-pointer and a shot from the left elbow to help close the final score to 67-55.
Fulda plays Russell-Tyler-Ruthton today in a girl/boy doubleheader at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, beginning at 1 p.m. Adrian travels to Slayton to take on Murray County Central Monday.
Adrian 23 32 — 55
Fulda 32 35 — 67
Adrian (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Loosbrock 2-5-4-20, Kopplow 2-2-1-11, Kontz 0-1-0-2, Springman 0-2-5-9, A. Thier 0-6-1-13. Totals: 4-16-11-55.
Fulda (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Hulstein 1-8-7-26, M. Gehl 1-2-1-8, S. Cheadle 0-0-2-2, R. Cheadle 0-5-5-15, T. Gehl 0-3-4-10, Wenzel 0-1-4-6. Totals: 2-19-23-67.