Balanced game advances Luverne girls basketball to Section 3AA quarterfinals

The Cardinals talented team was on full display in their tournament victory over St. James 70-45.

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Christina Wagner (1) lines up a layup for the Luverne Cardinals girls basketball team in their Section 3AA tournament game against St. James. Guarding Wagner for the Saints are Lunden Swanson (10) and Madelyn Malmgren (33).
Dominic Burns / The Globe

WINDOM – The Luverne Cardinals girls basketball team defeated the St James Saints 70-45 in their second round matchup of the Section 3AA south tournament Tuesday night.

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The Cardinals set the tone of the game by dominating time of possession, and they muscled their way into second chance points with hustle rebounds in the offensive zone. The Cardinals’ defense is tough to break, and it punishes bad passes which often end up as Cardinals’ breakaway buckets.

The Saints are a team that can drain a 3-pointer with ease given an open look. Luverne witnessed this ability at the end of the first half, as three consecutive St. James treys cut a lead that had been as large as 19 points to 10.

The Cardinals offense was focused on creating strong scoring opportunities, and featured many lengthy offensive possessions with sharp passing.

“What we talked about going into the game was that nothing was going to be given,” said Luverne coach TJ Newgard. “We had to earn it, and that possession where we had five or six offensive rebounds was a possession where we earned those two points.”


LHS had four players scoring double digit points, and two more players had nine apiece. Leading Luverne in scoring was Kira John with 14, and Averill Sehr put up 12. Scoring 11 points were Christina Wagner and Tori Serie, while Elizabeth Wagner and Lauren Hansen scored nine each. Hansen scored all her points on 3-point shots.

“We had contributions from a lot of players. We know what we are going to get from the starting five, it is when we get added stuff from the bench that makes us tougher to defend,” said Newgard.

The Cardinals’ defense has been tough to put up points against, the season average has been 37.3 points against. The game against St. James was no different as the Saints’ shots came contested.

The Saints’ leading scorer was senior Taylor Sodeman with 15 points. Sodeman is the Saints’ point guard and plays a compelling game with a strong 3-point shot, and lockdown defense in the key.

Madelyn Malmgren scored 10 points for the Saints and Jacey Swanson knocked in eight.

The Cardinals’ outstanding season and record can be accredited to the team’s chemistry with one another.

“We have all been playing (together) for a very long time,” said Kira John. “We are all very close. We try to hang out as much as we can as a team, and we have team suppers. On the court we are focused but we also have fun outside of school.”

The Cardinals, who were seeded as the top team in the Section 3AA south bracket, will face Fairmont on Thursday at the campus of Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall. Fairmont booked their ticket to the quarterfinal matchup by defeating second-seeded Pipestone Area 65-64.


St. James 26 45

Luverne 36 70

ST. JAMES (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Journey Swanson 1-1-0-5, Jacey Swanson 2-1-0-8, L. Swanson 1-0-0-3, Haycraft 0-1-0-2, Malmgren 0-4-2-10, Sodeman 3-2-2-15, Whitney 0-1-0-2. TOTALS 7-10-4-45.

LUVERNE (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) C. Wagner 1-3-2-11, Beyer 0-1-0-2, Serie 3-1-0-11, Sehr 1-3-3-12, E. Wagner 0-4-1-9, John 0-7-0-14, Hansen 3-0-0-9. Totals 8-20-6-70.

Dominic Burns is a reporter at the Globe who covers general news and sports.
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