PREP GIRLS' BASKETBALL: Eagles soar by DragonsWORTHINGTON — After the lead changed hands six times within the opening six minutes and 15 seconds Friday night, the second-seeded Southwest Christian Eagles went on a 16-3 run over the next 7:30 to take control and claimed a 64-46 victory over the third-seeded Adrian Dragons in the semifinals of the Section 3A South high school girls’ basketball tournament at Worthington High School.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — After the lead changed hands six times within the opening six minutes and 15 seconds Friday night, the second-seeded Southwest Christian Eagles went on a 16-3 run over the next 7:30 to take control and claimed a 64-46 victory over the third-seeded Adrian Dragons in the semifinals of the Section 3A South high school girls’ basketball tournament at Worthington High School.
SWC improves to 19-5 overall and advances to the sub-section championship game Monday night at 8 p.m., as the Eagles will take on top-seeded Fulda (23-5) at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.
“What an outstanding performance by our girls,” summed up SWC head coach Denise Nerem after the game. “We played great team defense and really helped each other out on that end, taking some things away from a solid Adrian squad. We also ran the floor well at times and found high-percentage shot opportunities from both inside and outside, so it was a very well-balanced team win for us tonight.”
Megan DeRuyter sparked SWC with a game-high 22 points, five rebounds and four steals, while Amber Pater finished with 16 points, five rebounds and four assists. Jennifer Schmidt netted 10 points off the bench, as the Eagles surged to a 34-19 halftime advantage and led by as many as 24 points twice (62-38 and 64-40) in the closing minutes.
“SWC outhustled us to loose balls all night long and converted on their open looks at the basket,” Adrian head coach Randy Strand said. “Give them all the credit, but we didn’t play very well. We didn’t get back on defense several times and couldn’t get any kind of a spark going offensively.”
The Dragons did have a total of nine players score, including Nichole Loosbrock with a team-best 13 points. Rachel Kontz (eight) and Taylor Voss (seven) combined to score 15 points for Adrian, which finishes an outstanding season with a record of 19-7.
SWC breaks open early back-and-forth affair
The ballgame started out with the teams trading punches early on. There were six lead exchanges right away, with Adrian holding slim edges of 2-0, 4-2, 4-3, 7-5, 9-8 and 12-10 behind seven quick points from Loosbrock — two interior baskets and a 3-pointer — along with a bucket in the lane from Voss and a trey by Elissa Thier.
SWC countered with hoops from Pater, Hannah Van Dyke (six points, five rebounds and five assists), Schmidt and DeRuyter, as the Eagles had slight leads of 5-4, 8-7 and 10-9.
DeRuyter’s bucket was a right-wing 3-pointer in that sequence and she swished another long-range shot from the top of the key to create the game’s seventh lead change at the 11:30 mark — giving SWC a 13-12 lead and triggering the Eagles’ 16-3 run that ensued.
A nice pass by DeRuyter to Schmidt for a bucket in the lane, a strong offensive-rebound basket by Pater off a missed fast-break shot and a pair of mid-range jumpers by Michaela Zeinstra (four points, five rebounds) were among the highlights in that stretch, as SWC opened up a 26-15 lead by the 4:16 mark.
Also included in that burst were a second-chance putback by DeRuyter and a smooth driving basket down the left side of the lane by Pater, helping the Eagles begin to take command.
“We took care of the ball and were able to score in a variety of ways,” Nerem said. “We got the ball inside well off the pass and the dribble, which also opened up some things on the outside for us. We were strong with the ball and made some very good passes, as well.”
Baskets by Sydne Springman (four points) and Kontz brought Adrian to within seven (26-19) with 3:09 remaining, but SWC closed the half with eight straight points to widen the gap even further.
Van Dyke hit a shot from the left elbow and scored on a hard drive from the right side, while Kelly Tinklenberg (four points, five rebounds) and Schmidt both scored inside off nice feeds from Zeinstra and Pater, respectively, to give the Eagles a 34-19 lead at the break.
Eagles cruise in the second half, advance to next round
DeRuyter started the scoring in the second half with a 15-footer off the window in transition, while Deidra Vander Woude (team-high seven rebounds) scored on a move in the lane to give the Eagles a 38-21 lead at the 16:51 mark.
Kontz, who had a driving basket for the Dragons’ initial points after the intermission, also passed to Springman for layup down low and later connected on a 17-foot shot from the left wing before sinking a pair of free throws to help pull Adrian within 13 (41-28) with 13:07 on the clock.
But DeRuyter responded with two free throws of her own and then made a perfect lead pass to Pater for a fast-break basket to give SWC a 45-28 lead with 12:02 to go.
DeRuyter and Pater continued to spark the Eagles offensively, helping increase the margin to 55-34 by the 9:08 mark. DeRuyter nailed a pull-up jumper in transition, while Pater turned a power post move into a traditional 3-point play.
Van Dyke passed to Pater on a cut inside for a basket, and DeRuyter knocked down a long 3-pointer from the left wing to round out SWC’s highlights, pushing the spread to 62-38 with 4:38 remaining.
Adrian finished the game strong by scoring eight of the last 10 points, beginning with a basket underneath by Nina Weidert at the 2:30 mark. Jordin Kopplow’s bounce pass to Carly Wolf resulted in a slick fast-break layup for the Dragons, while Voss added a pair of late hoops to create the final score of 64-46.
Kopplow had earlier fired in an 18-footer from the right wing, and Austyn Thier (five points) contributed with a pair of buckets for the Dragons, as well.
“This is not the way you want to end the season, as you’d like to be playing your best basketball at this time of the year,” Strand said. “But we did have a fine all-around season and won 19 games, as our girls worked hard and accomplished some great things as a team. I’m proud of their effort and how they went about competing night in and night out.”
Adrian 19 27 — 46
SWC 34 30 — 64
Adrian (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): E. Thier 1-0-0-3, Loosbrock 1-4-2-13, Kopplow 0-1-0-2, Kontz 0-3-2-8, Wolf 0-1-0-2, Springman 0-2-0-4, Weidert 0-1-0-2, A. Thier 0-2-1-5, Voss 0-3-1-7. Totals: 2-17-6-46.
SWC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Van Dyke 0-3-0-6, DeRuyter 3-4-5-22, Zeinstra 0-2-0-4, Vander Woude 0-1-0-2, Pater 0-7-2-16, Schmidt 0-5-0-10, Tinklenberg 0-2-0-4. Totals: 3-24-7-64.