PREP GIRLS' BASKETBALL: SWC survives first-round scare vs EHSWORTHINGTON — Finishing the first half with a 14-4 surge Saturday afternoon, the second-seeded Southwest Christian Eagles built a 28-18 halftime lead and then held off the seventh-seeded Ellsworth Panthers in the second half to claim a 60-52 victory in the third of four “Super Saturday” games in the Section 3A South high school girls’ basketball tournament quarterfinals at Worthington High School.
By: Aaron Hagen, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Finishing the first half with a 14-4 surge Saturday afternoon, the second-seeded Southwest Christian Eagles built a 28-18 halftime lead and then held off the seventh-seeded Ellsworth Panthers in the second half to claim a 60-52 victory in the third of four “Super Saturday” games in the Section 3A South high school girls’ basketball tournament quarterfinals at Worthington High School.
Now 18-5 overall, SWC advances to the sub-section semifinals where they will meet third-seeded Adrian Tuesday at about 7:30 p.m. in Worthington. Adrian (19-6) claimed a 39-27 victory over sixth-seeded Murray County Central to move on.
“We played well enough to win and that stretch just before halftime sure helped out,” SWC head coach Denise Nerem said after the game. “We knew that Ellsworth would not go away and keep coming at us, but we responded well to their run in the second half. We are pleased to get the win and look forward to the opportunity to play again Tuesday night.”
Megan DeRuyter led the way for SWC with 21 points, six rebounds and four steals. Amber Pater (15 points, four rebounds), Michaela Zeinstra (seven points, five rebounds and three assists), Kelly Tinklenberg (seven points, four rebounds), Deidra Vander Woude (five points, eight rebounds and three assists) and Hannah Van Dyke (five points, three assists) were the other statistical leaders for the Eagles.
Bridget Kramer scored nine points in each half and finished with 18 points, six rebounds and six assists to spark Ellsworth. Alexa Huisman (13 points, seven rebounds), Abby Drenth (nine points), Amber Walkowaik (five points, five assists) and Emily Timmer (five points, seven rebounds and three assists) were among the other key contributors for the Panthers, who finish their season with a record of 11-12.
“We had a good season and showed lots of improvement,” Ellsworth head coach Ben Mettling said. “We finished the year strong with an opening-round tournament win and by competing well with SWC in this one. We were within six a couple of times in the second half, as we played hard until the end.”
The Panthers — who also received a free throw from both Alissa Walters and Hannah Mulder — stuck right with the Eagles for most of the first half, as well. Kramer hit a 3-pointer 26 seconds in to give Ellsworth a 3-2 lead, while Drenth netted a shot from the right elbow to put the Panthers up 7-6 at the 13:09 mark.
Zeinstra and Van Dyke each scored on drives to aid SWC early on, while DeRuyter (10) and Pater (nine) combined for 19 first-half points — including all 14 in the Eagles’ 10-point burst prior to halftime.
SWC broke from a tie game (14-14 with 8:52 to play) with four baskets from DeRuyter and three hoops from Pater — mostly on drives and cuts inside by both players — in the last 7:20, taking leads of 18-14, 24-17 and 28-18.
DeRuyter then took a steal coast-to-coast for a layup 21 seconds into the second half, and the Eagles led by as many as 13 points (45-32) with 8:38 left. Tinklenberg scored twice in the lane to help SWC in that span.
But back-to-back driving baskets by Kramer started a Panthers’ rally, and a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer from the right wing by Huisman made it 48-39 with 6:19 on the clock. Huisman (11 second-half points) connected on another trey to once again trim the gap to nine (52-43) with 3:47 remaining.
Three free throws by the Panthers — one by Walkowaik and two from Huisman — made it 52-46 just 34 seconds later. Ellsworth was within six on two more occasions, matching a pair of free throws by DeRuyter and Vander Woude with a bucket each time.
Drenth buried an 18-footer from the right corner to make it 54-48 at the 1:53 mark, while Kramer scored on a drive to cut it to 56-50 with 42 seconds left.
But DeRuyter and Vander Woude again sank two free throws apiece before Kramer scored at the buzzer, creating the final score of 60-52.
Ellsworth 18 34 — 52
SWC 28 32 — 60
Ellsworth (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Walters 0-0-1-1, Walkowaik 0-2-1-5, Mulder 0-0-1-1, Kramer 1-6-3-18, Drenth 1-3-0-9, Huisman 3-1-2-13, Timmer 0-2-1-5. Totals: 5-14-9-52.
SWC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Van Dyke 0-1-3-5, DeRuyter 1-7-4-21, Zeinstra 0-2-3-7, Vander Woude 0-0-5-5, Amber Pater 0-6-3-15, Tinklenberg 0-2-3-7. Totals: 1-18-21-60.