PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL: Rabbits defeat RaidersWORTHINGTON — Effectively causing chaos with their pressure defensive tactics and also establishing a strong inside presence Tuesday night, the top-seeded Wabasso Rabbits raced to a 67-47 victory over the fourth-seeded Fulda Raiders in a Section 3A South girls’ basketball tournament semifinal game at Worthington High School.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Effectively causing chaos with their pressure defensive tactics and also establishing a strong inside presence Tuesday night, the top-seeded Wabasso Rabbits raced to a 67-47 victory over the fourth-seeded Fulda Raiders in a Section 3A South girls’ basketball tournament semifinal game at Worthington High School.
Wabasso is now 25-2 overall and advances to the sub-section finals Friday night (6 p.m.), as the Rabbits will take on the second-seeded Southwest Christian Eagles (22-4) at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall. The Eagles claimed an exciting 65-59 victory over third-seeded Adrian Tuesday.
It was the 17th consecutive win for the Rabbits, who played without senior guard Kimberly Frank — who has scored more than 1,400 points in her career — for most of the game due to an apparent ankle injury.
Junior forward Chelsey Guetter, who poured in a game-high 23 points and pulled down eight rebounds to pace Wabasso, joined Frank in the Rabbits’ 1,000-point club when she scored on an offensive-rebound basket with 12 minutes and 29 seconds remaining in the second half — capping a 12-2 run which extended a 33-30 lead to 45-32.
Guetter started that burst with a pair of baskets in the paint, while Larissa Rohlik (13 points) dialed in two of her four 3-pointers to help Wabasso thwart a potential comeback bid from Fulda — which ends its season with a fine record of 19-9.
The Raiders turned the ball over more than 20 times in the first half and finished with 35 turnovers primarily against the Rabbits’ 1-2-2 zone press, falling behind by 12 points (26-14) midway through the first half after they had jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead in the opening three minutes.
“We got outplayed by Wabasso, and it certainly wasn’t a lack of effort on our part — we just didn’t execute,” Fulda head coach Gregg Slaathaug said after the game. “We were well-prepared for this game and we played hard, but Wabasso executed better than we did in every facet of the game. Give them a lot of credit.”
Desi Kramer delivered a 12-point, 13-rebound double-double to aid the Rabbits’ winning performance, while Karlee Eichten (eight points), Frank (seven points) and Ellen Franta (eight assists, four steals) were the other key contributors in addition to Guetter and Rohlik.
“We had a lot of girls step up and help us overcome the loss of Kimberly,” Wabasso head coach Neil Dolan said. “We had to deal with some adversity, and this is a great win for us because the girls worked really hard together and did the things that we’ve been doing all year long to be successful.”
Melissa Gehl (10 points, seven rebounds) had an offensive-rebound basket, Brittney Hermeling (team-high 17 points, nine rebounds and four assists) hit a 3-pointer, and Sariah Cheadle (12 points, six assists and four steals) went coast-to-coast for a layup to trigger a quick 7-2 lead for Fulda.
Hermeling later connected on the second of her five treys to give the Raiders a 10-6 lead at the 14:05 mark, but the Rabbits countered with a 13-0 surge — keyed by their aggressive defensive pressure — to take control.
Wabasso forced Fulda to throw the ball away several times and hustled for lots of steals, as the teams engaged in a high-paced, physical contest. The Rabbits also got the ball inside for good looks at the basket from close range.
Frank scored three baskets and sank a free throw before she exited with an injury and did not return the rest of the way. Her 15-footer along the left baseline got Wabasso’s 13-0 run started.
A nifty driving hoop from the high post by Eichten and two baskets from the right block by Guetter, along with a bucket down low by Kramer, were also included in that sequence and helped the Rabbits mount a 19-10 advantage with 9:45 to play.
Erin Liebl’s 12-footer in the lane made it 23-13 at the 8:22 mark, and Rohlik’s first 3-pointer of the night gave Wabasso a 26-14 cushion with 5:56 remaining.
Fulda rallied with a brief 8-0 run to trim the gap to four (26-22), as Hermeling and Cheadle both nailed a long-distance shot. Amanda Schumacher converted a steal into a layup, as well.
Guetter responded with a driving basket and an open 3-pointer in transition, as Wabasso maintained a 33-26 lead as the first half came to a close.
Hermeling scored the first four points of the second half, drilling another 3-pointer and meshing a free throw to bring the Raiders within three (33-30) at the 15:57 mark.
However, the Rabbits scored the next seven points and 12 of the ensuing 14 to assume leads of 40-30 and 45-32. Guetter (three interior baskets) and Rohlik (two 3-pointers) scored six points apiece in that span to help Wabasso pull away.
It was at least a nine-point margin for the remaining action, as Guetter, Rohlik, Kramer and Eichten continued to find ways to score and complement the Rabbits’ strong team defense on the other end of the court.
Gehl sank two free throws, had a breakaway layup and muscled up an offensive-rebound basket to keep Fulda within striking distance for a while, but the Raiders were unable to get any closer during the final nine minutes.
Rachel Cheadle (seven rebounds) and Katelyn Renneke each hit two free throws late in the game for Fulda, while Wabasso’s Morgan Frank had a basket.
“I’m proud of our team and the amount of time that the girls put in to work and get better,” Slaathaug said. “Our girls spend a lot of time in the gym playing basketball together and we had another very good season overall.”
FULDA (19-9): B. Hermeling 5 2-4 17, Schumacher 2 0-0 4, C. Tiesler 0 0-2 0, Gehl 4 2-2 10, S. Cheadle 5 0-1 12, Ra. Cheadle 0 2-3 2, Renneke 0 2-3 2. Totals: 16 8-15 47.
WABASSO (25-2): L. Rohlik 4 1-2 13, Kramer 6 0-0 12, Liebl 1 0-0 2, Eichten 4 0-0 8, K. Frank 3 1-2 7, Guetter 11 0-4 23, M. Frank 1 0-0 2. Totals: 30 2-8 67.
Fulda 26 21 — 47
Wabasso 33 34 — 67
3-Point Goals: Fulda 7 (B. Hermeling 5, S. Cheadle 2); Wabasso 5 (L. Rohlik 4, Guetter). Rebounds: Fulda 43 (B. Hermeling 9, Gehl 7, R. Cheadle 7); Wabasso 43 (Kramer 13, Guetter 8). Turnovers: Fulda 35, Wabasso 21.