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Cardinals rally past Arrows for South 3AA crown

Pipestone Area guard Miranda Hulstein (0) drives in past Redwood Valley's Aubree Hicks for two points during the South Section 3AA title game Tuesday night in Marshall. (Tim Middagh / The Globe) 1 / 4
Pipestone Area guard Zoe Velde (4) drives on Redwood Valley during the South Section 3AA final Tuesday night in Marshall. (Tim Middagh / The Globe) 2 / 4
Pipestone Area forward Kaitlyn Draper (2) struggles with Redwood Valley guard Amy Martius for the basketball Tuesday night. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)3 / 4
Pipestone Area guards Mandi Miller (14) and guard MecKenzie Haroldson (20) turn on the pressure on the Cardinals' Any Martius (34). (Tim Middagh / The Globe)4 / 4

MARSHALL -- The Redwood Valley Cardinals overcame a nine-point late second-half deficit to trim top-seeded Pipestone Area, 41-38, for the South Section 3AA girls basketball championship Tuesday night at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.

The Cardinals got off to a slow start against the quicker Arrows, and it took almost the entire game for them to get within striking distance of a victory. They finally took a lead with 2:58 remaining when 5-4 senior guard Amy Martius drained a long 3-point shot -- only the second 3-pointer made by the Cards -- to give her team a 39-38 advantage.

The Arrows never scored again, despite several opportunities -- including four shot attempts on one of their late possessions. With under a minute to go, still trailing by one, Pipestone Area’s Mandy Miller missed a 3-pointer. Redwood Valley got the rebound but was called for traveling on the other end of the court.

Pipestone Area took a full timeout with 52.2 seconds to go, but missed another field goal try. The Arrows got the ball back, however, on a jump ball. Zoe Velde then missed inside and Redwood Valley’s Aubree Hicks came up with the rebound. Velde fouled her with 10.7 seconds remaining, and Hicks made both ends of a 1-on-1 situation. As time expired, the Arrows were again unable to convert.

Pipestone Area scored the game’s first seven points against the second-seeded Cardinals, who were thoroughly outplayed in the opening minutes. The Arrows were quicker, more aggressive and anticipated better on defense. They had quicker hands. They took advantage of lazy passes.

They led 20-16 at halftime, but couldn’t put Redwood Valley away. They went into a patient, ball-control offense with about seven minutes remaining, but couldn’t keep the Cardinals down.

“I think defensively we just picked up the intensity a little bit,” said Redwood Valley head coach Taya Kockelman. “You could definitely tell when we first stepped foot on the floor, we were extremely nervous. None of these girls have ever played on this floor before.”

Redwood Valley will play Eden Valley-Watkins for the Section 3AA championship and a berth in the state tournament on Friday at SMSU. Game time is 5 p.m.

Six-foot sophomore Haley Garman, who was strong offensively down the stretch, led Redwood Valley with 13 points. Fellow sophomore Sydney Sommers scored 11 points. Her teammates were able to get the ball inside to Garman in the closing minutes, and she got the job done.

“Our point guards started to take care of the ball a little better and take care of transition,” said Kockelman, who added that her team never believes it’s out of a ball game.

In their previous game, the Cards defeated Jackson County Central after trailing by 18 points.

“This group has a ton of grit, and they don’t give up very easily,” said the coach.

Velde led Pipestone Area with 10 points. Miller scored nine while Miranda Hulstein and MacKenzie Haroldson both scored eight.

Pipestone Area 20 38

Redwood Valley 16 41

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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