PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL: Dragons stay perfect in RRC playSLAYTON — The Adrian Dragons girls basketball team stayed perfect in the Red Rock Conference with a 66-56 victory over the Murray County Central Rebels Tuesday night.
By: Lance Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
SLAYTON — The Adrian Dragons girls basketball team stayed perfect in the Red Rock Conference with a 66-56 victory over the Murray County Central Rebels Tuesday night.
While the outcome was a 10-point margin, the Dragons created the spread by converting 9 of 12 free throws in the final 2 minutes, 24 seconds to pull away from the Rebels in the tight contest.
“I told my girls that it came down to free throws,” Rebels head coach Laura Jenson said. “(Adrian) shot a little over 35 free throws and was shooting a pretty good percentage.
“Our effort was there and, defensively, we took (Adrian) out of their game and made them play to our game. It just came down to free throws in the end.”
Adrian finished the game 30-for-42 (71.4 percent) from the charity stripe, while MCC reached the line 13 times and made five (38.5 percent).
The Rebels, who trailed by one at halftime, went on a 13-6 run to open the final 18 minutes, taking a 48-42 lead after a Jade Giese basket off a Taylor Schreier drive-and-dish with 9:30 to play.
The interior presence of Haley Bose and Morgan Behrends helped MCC created that margin with Schreier delivering several nice assists
Behrends, a 5-foot-9 sophomore, finished with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Bose, a 5-11 senior, added 12 points, Giese added 10 points and three assists and Schreier finished with five points, eight rebounds and five assists.
“A lot of credit to MCC,” Dragons head coach Randy Strand said. “(The Rebels) played a very good game for themselves. We had trouble stopping them inside. We aren’t the tallest of teams, but we battled and (our pressure) took its toll towards the end. We’ll just battle, battle, battle and take what we can get.”
“We knocked some free throws down there at the end that gave us some separation when we needed it,” Strand added. “A hard-fought win, but we’ll take it and move on from here.”
Following MCC’s six-point lead, Adrian quickly knotted the game at 48 after a right-corner 3 from Elizabeth Thier with 9:12 left and then another Thier perimeter shot (from the left corner) with 8:37 to go.
“That 3 can be a dangerous thing as it can hurt you or it can help you,” Strand said. “Fortunately, Elizabeth (Thier) found the range on it and knocked the two down and we were able to catch up in two shots. From there, we were able get some steals at the end and knock some free throws down.”
Thier (5-for-8 free throws) scored 17 points, including four 3’s, to lead a balanced Dragons’ attack. Rachel Kontz (6-for-8 free throws) added 12 points, while Brooke Wenzel (7-for-7 free throws) scored 11 and Courtney Vaske (6-for-8 free throws) finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and four steals.
Jordin Kopplow, a 5-7 senior, grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds to go with four assists for Adrian, while Kontz delivered four assists and four steals.
Following the tie at 48, MCC retook the lead at 50-48 and 52-50 with Behrends scoring both buckets for the Rebels to offset a long 2 and a pair of free throws by Kontz.
However, Adrian, which ran a 1-3-1 fullcourt press for much of the game, reclaimed the lead (54-52) for good after two free throws from Vaske with 6:54 left.
A transition basket by Kontz increased the lead to four with 6:30 to play before Schreier found Behrends on the left block with an over-the-top pass with 4:45 to go to cut the Dragon lead to 56-54.
Following a free throw by Kontz to make it 57-54, Behrends scored again from the left block off a Jenna Ness assist to account for the final field goal for either side with 3:12 remaining.
From there, Adrian managed to make its free throws while turning steals from its pressure into long possessions, forcing Murray County Central to foul at the end.
“I think we kind of ran out of gas,” Jenson said. “We’ve had some illness on the team and some girls out of practice, but our effort throughout the whole game was there.
“When (the opponent) gets a big 3 like that at the end of the game, it kind of takes the wind out of your sails a little bit.”
Adrian turned the ball over 16 times in the contest against 23 turnovers by MCC. The Rebels did a good job against the Dragons’ pressure early before succumbing to the visitor’s tenacity late.
“(Adrian) made adjustments to our press break,” Jenson added. “Our girls ran the press break well. We’ve really been focusing and working on the press break.
“Towards the end of the game, it did show through that we were tired — not thinking as smart as we should be and not making the crisp passes like we did at the start of the game. But the girls played hard and I was happy that we rebounded the way that we did from last Thursday and came back to play hard (Tuesday).”
Murray County Central (3-6, 3-4) returns to action Friday when the Rebels host Mountain Lake Area.
The win keeps Adrian (9-2, 6-0) in first place in the Red Rock Conference. The Dragons travel to Edgerton Friday to play Southwest Christian, which is 5-0 in the league.
Adrian (9-2, 6-0): Elis. Thier 1 2-3 3, Eliz. Thier 4 5-8 17, Kopplow 2 1-2 5, Kontz 3 6-8 12, Wolf 2 3-6 7, Wenzel 2 7-7 11, Vaske 2 6-8 10. Totals: 16 30-42 66.
Murray County Central (3-6, 3-4): Nysetvold 0 0-0 0, Schmitz 1 0-0 2, Giese 5 0-4 10, Hartle 1 2-2 5, Schreier 2 1-1 5, Bose 6 0-2 12, Ness 2 1-2 5, Behrends 8 1-2 17. Totals: 25 5-13 56.
Halftime: Adrian 36, Murray County Central 35. 3-Point Goals: Adrian 4 (Ei. Thier 4); Murray County Central 1 (Hartle). Rebounds: Adrian 33 (Kopplow 14, Vaske 9); Murray County Central 39 (Behrends 11, Schreier 8). Assists: Adrian 12 (Kopplow 4, Kontz 4); Murray County Central 15 (Schreier 5, Giese 3). Steals: Adrian 13 (Kontz 4, Vaske 4); Murray County Central 3. Blocked Shots: Adrian None; Murray County Central 3. Turnovers: Adrian 16, Murray County Central 23.