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Girls Basketball: Goodhue holds off Rochester Century

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ROCHESTER – With a little more than seven minutes to play in Thursday’s Rochester Rotary Tournament first-round game, Goodhue’s Mikayla Miller hit the floor hard. Miller stayed down, holding her head before standing and walking off the Mayo Civic Auditorium court. The Wildcats held a tenuous nine-point lead over Rochester Century, a lead that was cut into immediately following Miller’s exit.

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Four minutes later, Miller checked back into the game. Goodhue still had a lead thanks to stellar defense, composed ball handlers and an offense that hit 4 of 6 free throws. Miller scored on her first touch, and the Wildcats held off Century, 61-55.

Missing its best player, Goodhue, the No. 4-ranked team in Class A, hung with a school three classes up the ladder. Other Wildcats stepped up in Miller’s absence, something that should bode well for the team as the season wears on.

“We broke their press very well,” said Goodhue head coach Josh Wieme. “I don’t think it hurt us with Mikayla out. So we should take confidence. The kids (have) got to take confidence out of that. We don’t want to play without (Miller), but if we have to for stretches, we can. So they should take a lot of confidence from that.”

Prior to Millers injury, the Wildcats were weathering a 6-0 run from the Panthers. Century scored immediately following Miller’s fall, stretching that surge to eight-straight points.

But Michelle Hadler and Shelby Hinsch combined to hit those four free throws. Hinsch later hit a field goal that pushed the lead back to six before Miller dropped all four of her foul shots down the stretch.

Hinsch may have had the biggest impact on the game, Miller included. Hinsch opened the second half with eight points in 5 minutes, 31 seconds, including a 3-pointer that gave Goodhue a 10-point lead after Century opened the half with back-to-back baskets.

“I felt like, going (into) halftime, when we were sitting in the locker room, we could not let up on them at all, we could not give them an inch at all. We had to work super hard,” Hinsch said.

Early on, it appeared the work was going to be in staying invested in the game as the Wildcats ran out to a 9-2 advantage. Two 3-pointers in a row got the Panthers back into it, but by the 7:24 mark, Goodhue was up 25-14. The Panthers scored just one point for one six minute stretch, then scored eight points in the final 2:39 to pull within 34-23 at the break.

But then Hinsch took over. And when Miller hit the floor, the rest of the team followed suit.

“Everybody really stepped up once Mikayla came off the court because we knew we needed to hold them just in case she doesn’t come back,” Hinsch said. “Everybody figured everybody needed to step up huge. And everybody really did.”

Four Wildcats ended up with at least eight points, led by Miller’s 23. Hinsch added 16 while Kali Ryan and Hadler each had eight. Ryan added three steals, and Emma Watson chipped in five points and seven rebounds. Miller also had five assists and 11 rebounds.

Goodhue, by far the smallest school in the field, will now face Rochester Lourdes at 8:15 p.m. Friday in the semifinals. The Wildcats (8-2) beat the Eagles (5-4) 59-23 on Dec. 17. A win would give Goodhue a spot in Saturday’s championship against either Apple Valley or White Bear Lake.

It’s a lot of big schools to contend with. But the Wildcats could make a big statement with a couple more victories.

“This being where we’ll play our section games, we just want to play well and get comfortable playing here,” Wieme said. “We found a way to win that last game, so we just want to play well enough (Friday) to put ourselves in position to win. There some big schools here, boy. Looking at the lineups and the heights, it’s going to be a real test. But that’s fun. It’s fun that our program was invited to do this, and we get to experience this. This is really pretty neat.

“Whether it’s a statement or not, we just want to have fun.”

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