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T-M-B speed and pressure sinks Southwest Christian girl cagers

Tracy-Milroy-Balaton beat Southwest Minnesota Christian in the South Section 3A girls basketball championship Friday night in Marshall

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MARSHALL — Southwest Minnesota Christian nailed its first three shots of the game here Friday night, a start Eagle fans dreamed of.

But that excellent start soon turned into a nightmare against the superb Tracy-Milroy-Balaton defense as the Panthers rolled to a 52-36 victory in the 3A South Sub-Section championship game.

Jordan Munson, Lauren Zick and Margaret Dolan scored 10 points apiece as the Panthers improved to 27-2 and advanced to the Section 3A championship game next Friday night here at the Southwest Minnesota State RA Center.

“Their full court pressure just got to us,” said Eagles’ coach Luke Drooger. “We had too many unforced turnovers.”

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Sophomore Ana Veldkamp scored 15 points for Southwest Christian (21-7), but no one else had more than eight. The Eagles finished 9-for-37 from the field and committed 35 turnovers.

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But early on, Southwest looked sharp as junior forward Makenna Moss scored twice and Veldkamp knifed to the hole to build a 6-0 lead.

“Our team was really nervous, and not quite ready to play, which is something we have to work on for the next game,” said Munson. “Once we started getting it together and got our nerves out, we just rolled with it, we got our confidence back and our shots started going in.”

The Panther defense, a full court press that the active and senior-leaden team has used to advantage all winter, was on full display early on. The Panthers used a 15-1 run to build a 26-12 lead midway through the first half.

“It’s relentless and it’s tenacious,” said T-M-B coach Derek Ashbaugh. “It’s something we’ve had to rely on all year long.

“Southwest did a nice job coming out of the gates. They came out ready to roll. It took us a couple of minutes to calm down, and then our pressure took over.”

The TMB lead was 18 at halftime and up to 23 points early in the second half before Southwest Christian rallied. Veldkamp, a smooth sophomore with excellent length and ability to get to the basket, scored 12 second-half points as the Eagles kept the game respectable. Morgan Pap and Makenna Moss did great work on the boards as the Eagles hung in there.

“I was proud that we didn’t give up at halftime and we actually out scored them in the second half,” Drooger said. “We played good defense, but Munson is good and she gets to the rim and sets up other girls.”

To be sure, the Panthers are a fast team. And Munson, a 5-8 junior guard, is the quickest of the quick. A catalyst on defense and playmaker on offense, Munson was a difference-maker Friday night. She had six rebounds, and at least that many steals and assists.

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“Jordan plays at a different level,” Ashbaugh said. “Her speed changes so many different things. She’s able to get to the rim, and her ability to get easy shots for other kids is always super important.”

The Panthers shot 22-for-67 from the field as their defense and offensive rebounding provided many opportunities. Dolan had eight rebounds and Sheridan Ludeman tossed in two 3-pointers as TMB ran its winning streak to 19.

Pap and Moss each had eight boards for Southwest. The Eagles lose Pap to graduation, but there are many players who will be back at Southwest Christian next season.

“We hope to be good again next year,” Drooger said.

SW Christian 13 36

Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 31 52

Southwest Minnesota Christian (3FG-2FG-FG-TP) — Kierra Binford 0-1-2-4, Shaylee Van Essen 0-0-1-1, Ana Veldkamp 0-4-7-15, Kinsie Nelson 0-1-0-2, Morgan Pap 0-0-4-4, Makenna Moss 0-3-2-8, Jocelyn Barron 0-0-2-2. Totals: 0-9-18-36.

Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) — Jordan Munson 0-5-0-10, Maddi Langerock 1-1-0-5, Camille Dolan 0-2-0-4, Kiarra Danielson 1-1-0-5, Lauren Zick 1-3-1-10, Margaret Dolan 0-4-2-10, Sheridan Ludeman 2-0-0-6, Jaysa Davis 0-1-0-2. Totals: 5-17-3-52.

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Scott Mansch, who in a crowded Viking tavern has been known to say “Go Pack Go” at times in complete disregard for his health, can be reached at smansch5rockets@gmail.com
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