Quasars knock off Dragons, 61-53
MARSHALL -- After the top-seeded Adrian Dragons went ahead for the fifth time in a back-and-forth second half at the eight-minute mark Friday night, the third-seeded Southwest Star Concept Quasars went on a 7-0 run to grab a five-point lead befor...
MARSHALL -- After the top-seeded Adrian Dragons went ahead for the fifth time in a back-and-forth second half at the eight-minute mark Friday night, the third-seeded Southwest Star Concept Quasars went on a 7-0 run to grab a five-point lead before sinking 10-of-15 free throws down the stretch to claim a 61-53 victory in the Section 3A South girls' basketball championship game at the R/A Facility at SMSU.
SSC (21-6) will play for the section championship for the first time since 1995 (as Heron Lake-Okabena-Lakefield), taking its 12-game winning streak into the Section 3A title game next Friday night in Marshall at 8 p.m. The Quasars play Russell-Tyler-Ruthton (24-5), which defeated Minneota 50-45 in the North championship game earlier Friday.
"We did a good job defensively, and followed our gameplan pretty well," SSC head coach Les Knutson said after the game. "Adri Rasche had a tremendous all-around game for us, Breanna Rients led us offensively with her scoring and passing, and we received contributions from our bench. It was a big victory."
Adrian (22-7), which defeated the Quasars 64-46 at Adrian Jan. 8, had just one lead in the first half -- 17-16 on a three-point play by Sam Lynn (20 points, 15 in first half) at the 6:04 mark -- and trailed 25-19 at halftime after the Quasars put together a 9-2 surge over the final 5:33 of the period.
However, the Dragons scored eight of the first 10 points in the second half to tie the score at 27 with16:14 left.
Erica Thier, who scored 15 of her 17 points in the second half, hit a three-pointer from the right corner and an eight-foot runner on the left side to sandwich a top-of-the-key trey by Lynn to spark the Dragon burst.
Rients, who popped in 14 of her game-high 21 points in the final 18 minutes, found Rasche for a basket underneath with one of her six assists, and Rasche (13 points, seven rebounds) was fouled and made a free throw for a three-point play to put the Quasars up 30-27 at the 16-minute mark.
Lynn answered with a quick drive and basket before Thier's three-pointer from the right wing bounced in to give Adrian a 32-30 lead 1:28 later.
Rients fed Brooke DeWall (nine points, six rebounds) for a basket in the lane with an over-the-top drive-and-dish to tie it at 32 with 14:14 left.
There were three more tie scores (at 34, 36 and 38) over the next four minutes, and SSC went ahead 40-38 on an inbounds basket by Rasche on a feed from Syd Place (10 points, three rebounds) with 9:43 left.
Bridget Block (eight points) swished a three-pointer from the left wing to give Adrian a 41-40 lead, and after Rasche found DeWall for a bucket in the paint, Thier nailed a three-pointer from out top to put the Dragons up 44-42 with 8:07 left.
Rients, though, responded with a right-wing three-pointer on the next possession to give SSC a 45-44 lead 17 seconds later.
Place drove down the right side of the lane for a basket, and Katey Granstra (nine rebounds, four shot blocks) scored on a step-through move on the right block, as the Quasars held Adrian scoreless until the 4:23 mark to build a 49-44 lead.
After Thier and Rients each made a free throw to make it 50-45, neither team scored again until Rasche's stickback basket off a missed free throw with 2:20 left gave the Quasars a 52-45 lead.
Rients and Place each hit two free throws, and Adrian's Karli Meyer scored inside to make it 56-47 with 50.6 second left.
Block fired in a three-pointer to slice the gap to six (56-50) with 37 seconds left, but that's as close as it ever got with Place and Rients each sinking a pair from the free-throw stripe to help seal the eight-point Quasar victory.
"They kind of controlled the tempo with good defense and patience on offense, and we didn't shoot like we wanted to," Adrian head coach Randy Strand said. "We made a nice run to start the second half, but couldn't stretch it out once we took the lead a few times. We had a great season, though, and have a lot to be proud of."
SSC scored the game's first six points in the opening two minutes, as Rasche and DeWall found each other in the paint for a basket apiece before Place's putback bucket made it 6-0.
Lynn hit a 12-foot pull-up jumper on the left wing and went coast-to-coast to make a bounce pass to Thier for a layup in transition, bringing the Dragons within two (6-4) with 15:07 left.
SSC had two more six-point leads (10-4 and 12-6) over the next four minutes with Michelle Olsem scoring on an inbounds pass from DeWall in that span, but Lynn buried back-to-back three-pointers to help pull the Dragons even at 14 with 7:28 to go.
DeWall fed Rasche for a basket in the lane, but Lynn's three-point play with 6:04 left gave the Dragons their first lead (17-16) of the game.
Rasche again scored on an assist from DeWall, and Erika Post netted a 17-footer on the left wing to give SSC a 20-17 lead with three minutes to go.
Lynn scored on a drive along the left baseline to make it a one-point game, but Rients scored the last five points of the half with a deep three-point swisher on the right wing and an 18-foot baseline shot on a pass from Place to give the Quasars a 25-19 halftime lead - setting up the early back-and-forth action of the second half.
"Adrian played good defense and took away our inside game at times," Knutson said. "We had some good offensive possessions at key times, came up with some crucial defensive stops against a very potent offense, and played through some adversity."
SSC 25 36 -- 61
Adrian 19 34 -- 53
SSC (3PT-2PT-FT-TP): Rients 2-4-7-21, DeWall 0-4-1-9, Post 0-1-0-2, Place 0-2-6-10, Rasche 0-6-1-13, Olsem 0-1-0-2, Granstra 0-2-0-4. Totals: 2-20-15-61.
AHS (3PT-2PT-FT-TP): E. Thier 3-3-2-17, Lynn 3-5-1-20, Slater 0-1-1-3, Block 2-1-0-8, Meyer 0-2-1-5. Totals: 8-12-5-53.