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Goodhue's Kali Ryan drives the lane during the Wildcats' 62-55 victory Friday night. Goodhue will face Waseca in the championship game of the Red Wing Tip-Off Tournament at 2:30 p.m. today. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)

Girls Basketball: Goodhue starts strong at tip-off tournament

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Fans of Goodhue girls basketball need not be worried, Mikayla Miller is still fully capable of taking over a game.

Miller, a senior guard for the Wildcats, scored 36 points in a 62-55 victory over River Falls Friday night in the Red Wing Tip-Off Tournament. 

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Miller also had seven rebounds and six steals, and she was in foul trouble almost from the outset. And that, along with Kali Ryan’s brief time on the bench following a head injury, might be the biggest thing to take away from the win: with the top two scorers unavailable for stretches of time, Goodhue still got it done riding the rest of a young roster.

“I thought that was very good,” said Goodhue head coach Josh Wieme. “Megan Ryan, a freshman, and Michelle Hadler, a sophomore, they didn’t have a choice. They had to kind of grow up real fast and handle big-pressure situations. You hate seeing Kali (get injured). Head injuries are so scary, and she had played so well, I hated to see her come out when she was doing everything right up until that point … But that’s what we’re looking forward to seeing. Who’s going to step up? Who’s going to grow into a spot? Who’s going to become that player that makes big plays?”

That last question was answered, to some degree, by Hadler. Down 36-34, and with both Miller and Kali Ryan on the bench, Hadler calmly knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Wildcats a lead they would hold for the remainder of the game.

Then, once the two seniors reentered the game, they got right back to work. Kali Ryan scored to stretch the lead to three points before Miller scored five straight points. After River Falls scored, Miller scored Goodhue’s next 12 points as well, giving her a run of 17 straight for the Wildcats. Hadler, who ended up with five points, then hit another field goal before Miller sealed the deal with four consecutive free throws.

Kali Ryan, who, like Miller, had 12 points at halftime, like what she saw during her time on the bench, as well as her time playing alongside two underclassmen.

“I thought we played really (well),” said Kali Ryan, who finished with 14 points. “There (are) new faces on the floor, so we had to get the chemistry back and everything. But I think everybody did very (well) and filled their roles.”

One role that is already taken is that of leader as Miller used back-to-back steals early in the second half to spark Goodhue’s offense. And not only was Miller the dominant scorer and defender for the Wildcats, she’s also willing to learn lessons of her own. In particular, the fouls she on a couple reach-ins while the Wildcats were in a half-court trap.

“I think it’s good to start off the beginning of the year knowing that I can’t give stupid fouls, and knowing that I have to be out there to help the team until the end of the game,” Miller said.

That’s something Miller will have time to work on as Goodhue (1-0) will play Game No. 2 at 2:30 p.m. today against Waseca (1-0).

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Kyle Stevens
Kyle Stevens is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, Kyle worked at the Owatonna People’s Press, as well as KWLM and KLFN in Willmar. You can contact Kyle by phone at (651) 301-7879, via e-mail at kstevens@republican-eagle.com, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
(651) 301-7879
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