PREP GIRLS' BASKETBALL: Arrows can't overcome halftime deficit in state tournament loss
MINNEAPOLIS -- By the time Pipestone Area's girls' basketball team got back in the game Wednesday night, it didn't have enough energy left to finish.
The Arrows turned to their defense to turn things around in the second half, battling back from a seven-point deficit at halftime and an eight-point deficit with 4:27 remaining to make it a one-possession game in the closing minutes, but Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted withstood the late rally en route to a 42-37 victory in the quarterfinals of the Class AA tournament at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.
"We were working hard on defense to get ourselves back in the game and fatigue became a factor," Pipestone Area coach Jay Johnson said. "You expend so much energy to catch up to them, and then just have a bad pass or an ill-advised defensive set or give up a layup or what have you."
Pipestone Area forced 12 turnovers and held HL-W-W to just six field goals and 18 points in the second half. But the Arrows expended so much energy on the defensive end in an effort to force the misses and turnovers they wanted that there didn't seem to be much gas left in the tank for the offensive charge they needed.
The Arrows shot just 26.5 percent (9 of 34) from the field in the second half and missed 14 of their last 18 shots from the field. The shots that went in got them closer, but they were unable to get the potential lead-taking attempts to fall.
Pipestone Area went on a 4-0 run to open the second half and cut the deficit to three points, but it missed on its next four attempts from the field. Bree Woelber scored on a drive to cut the deficit to one with 14:12 remaining, but the Arrows missed seven of their ensuing nine attempts, allowing the Lakers to break off a 13-6 run and take a 37-29 lead with 4:27 remaining.
While the Arrows' offense was sputtering, their dominant defense kept them within striking distance.
After Woelber hit a pull-up jumper on the baseline to pull Pipestone Area to within 37-31, the Arrows forced four turnovers, including both a 5-second and a 10-second violation, and held the Lakers scoreless over a span of 3:48.
Megan VanderPoel scored on a putback basket with 1:28 remaining to cap a 6-0 run and cut the deficit to two points. Pipestone Area's Bailey Bouman recorded a steal moments later, but the Lakers quickly returned the favor.
HL-W-W's Katie Pettit then missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Woelber had a layup attempt blocked out of bounds and a forced baseline jumper come up short.
The Arrows again were forced to foul, and Christina Gruenhagen drilled both attempts from the free-throw line to push the Lakers' lead to four points with 39 seconds remaining.
On the other end, Bouman's driving floater came up short, and HL-W-W's Taylor Williams hit 1 of 2 free throws to make it 40-35 with 30 seconds remaining.
VanderPoel and Woelber each missed shots on Pipestone Area's ensuing possession before VanderPoel recorded a putback basket with seven seconds remaining to make a three-point game. But Pettit essentially sealed Pipestone Area's fate by drilling two free throws on the other end.
"I'm proud of the kids' effort; we had kids step up and play big in a big scenario on a big stage like this with a large crowd," Johnson said. "I think it was a good atmosphere for basketball. But (the Lakers) have some good experience in some of those positions, and we came out on the wrong side."
HL-W-W, which lost in the quarterfinals of last season's Class AA tournament, shot 42.1 percent (16 of 38) from the field and advanced to the semifinals despite being outrebounded 41-20.
The Lakers never led in the first 10 minutes of the game Wednesday. Pipestone Area got off to a hot start, going 6-for-11 from the field and taking a 14-9 lead on a jumper by VanderPoel with 9:25 remaining in the first half.
But the Arrows quickly went cold. After VanderPoel's bucket, Pipestone Area went scoreless over the ensuing 5:03 and committed eight turnovers and made just one field goal in the remaining nine-plus minutes of the half. The drought allowed the Lakers to go on an 18-5 run into halftime.
"Offensively, we weren't real patient in the first half," Johnson said.
Pettit, who has scored over 2,000 career points, scored 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field and 2-of-3 shooting from beyond the arc in the first half. The 5-foot-6 senior guard finished with a game-high 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field.
Ellie Wessling scored 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting, and Gruenhagen added seven points and eight rebounds for the Lakers (28-3).
Woelber scored 11 points on 5-of-19 shooting and added nine rebounds, two assists and two steals to lead Pipestone Area (21-6). The sophomore guard also committed 10 turnovers.
VanderPoel had 10 points, 16 rebounds -- 11 offensive -- and two blocks, and Brooke Woelber and Breanna Houselog each added six points for the Arrows, who went 16-for-51 from the field (31.4 percent), 0-for-3 from 3-point range, and 5-for-10 from the free-throw line.
Bouman scored two points on 1-of-9 shooting from the field.
PA 17 20 -- 37
HL-W-W 24 18 -- 42
PA (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Bre. Woelber 0-5-1-11, B. Bouman 0-1-0-2, Houselog 0-3-0-6, VanderPoel 0-3-4-10, Lentz 0-1-0-2, Bro. Woelber 0-3-0-6. Totals: 0-16-5-37.
HL-W-W (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Williams 1-0-1-4, Pettit 2-6-2-20, Wessling 0-5-1-11, Gruenhagen 0-2-3-7. Totals: 3-13-7-42.