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Fulda repeats in 3A South

MARSHALL -- Sarah Raddle drained the biggest shot in the biggest game of the girls basketball season Friday. Raddle's 3-pointer -- her only basket of the game and the only 3-pointer by either team -- gave No. 2 Fulda the lead with 7.5 seconds rem...

MARSHALL -- Sarah Raddle drained the biggest shot in the biggest game of the girls basketball season Friday.

Raddle's 3-pointer -- her only basket of the game and the only 3-pointer by either team -- gave No. 2 Fulda the lead with 7.5 seconds remaining, and the Raiders survived a last-second shot attempt to defeat top-seeded Murray County Central, 50-49, in the Section 3A South finals played at Southwest Minnesota State University.

Fulda (22-4) and MCC (22-5) have been the two superior clubs in the Red Rock Conference the entire season. They both went 15-1 in the league, with the one loss coming at the other's home court.

The anticipation for this game was at an all-time high, as local fans would be able to watch a spectacular game, and find out just who would lay claim as the top team in Section 3A South.

And, as expected, the game lived up to its hype, as neither team led by more than five points throughout the contest, and the outcome wasn't decided until the final buzzer had sounded.

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A defensive battle all night long, the game featured 12 ties and nine lead changes. However, it was the final lead change that will be remembered for a long time by basketball fans.

Trailing 49-47 after Rachel Christiansen, who was hampered by a sprained ankle suffered against Adrian, hit 1-of-2 free throws with 17.9 seconds remaining, Fulda's Brittany Goedtke dribbled the ball up the court before passing the ball to Raddle on the right side. Raddle caught the ball and, without hesitation, shot a high-arching bomb that swished its way through the net, giving Fulda a 50-49 advantage with 7.5 seconds showing on the clock.

MCC quickly called a timeout for one last shot. Laura Beers brought the ball up the right side of the court, drawing the entire Fulda defense toward her.

Beers then flipped the ball to a wide-open Emily Counter for a 15-foot jumper from the left wing. The shot was short, however, and Fulda celebrated with emotional victory.

"They got the ball where they needed at the end," MCC head coach Cory Strasser said. "They made one more play than us, and we needed to hit a couple more shots down the stretch."

Raddle's shot capped a late comeback by the Raiders, who trailed by four (48-44) with 1:01 left after Beers hit two free throws.

The Raiders were also playing the final minute with three of their starters (Kaitlyn Kramer, Nicole Gunderman and Chelsey Speckmeier) sitting on the bench as assistant coaches after fouling out. A fourth, Laura Kramer, later joined them.

But Goedtke, who had turned the ball over after Beers' free throws, redeemed herself with a huge 3-point play to draw Fulda within 48-47 with 40.6 seconds left.

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MCC's Jenny Starken then missed a pair of free throws, but the Rebels got the ball right back, as Counter picked up a steal near mid-court with 30 seconds left.

After a Rebel timeout, the Raiders fouled Christiansen, who hit 1-of-2 foul shots with 17.9 seconds remaining, setting the stage for Raddle's dramatic three-pointer.

"We could have folded when we had some girls foul out," Fulda head coach Gregg Slaathaug said. "But the girls got tough, and I wouldn't let them give up. I'm so proud of the girls."

The exciting finish was the culmination of a spectacular display of defense, as the pressure each team put on the other's offense was superb.

Both teams played man-to-man throughout the game, making it extremely tough for their opponent to find its rhythm on offense.

MCC applied full-court pressure, while Fulda focused on keeping the ball out of the middle.

Laura Kramer did a great job of fronting Christiansen throughout the game, as Kaitlyn Kramer and Gunderman were on the back side to help.

Neither team was able to get much going from the perimeter as the pressure by both teams made it difficult for outside looks to materialize.

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A lot of the game's points came off of offensive rebounds, as both teams were able to crash the boards for putback baskets.

Free throws were also a major factor in this game, as Fulda was just 3-of-16 in the first half (9-of-27 for the game). MCC, meanwhile, was just 13-for-28 (7-for-14 down the stretch).

The Raiders now play Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, a 53-50 winner over Lincoln HI, Friday at 8 p.m. in Marshall for the Section 3A title.

Fulda 23 27 -- 50

MCC 24 25 -- 49

FULDA (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): K. Kramer 0-10-4-24, Sarah Raddle 1-0-0-3, Speckmeier 0-3-0-6, Goedtke 0-1-2-4, L. Kramer 0-5-3-13. Totals: 1-19-9-50.

MCC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Beers 0-2-3-7, Starken 0-4-0-8, Counter 0-1-0-2, Robinson 0-1-0-2, Christiansen 0-4-6-14, Gengler 0-3-3-9, Bose 0-3-1-7. Totals: 0-18-13-49.

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