Girls Basketball: Section standouts again
ROCHESTER - Red Wing and Kasson-Mantorville know each other well enough by now.
The Wingers and KoMets faced off twice earlier in the season and met in the Section 1AAA finale last year. The only surprise Friday night was Red Wing shooting worse than 40 percent from the field.
It's hard enough to beat a team twice but the Wingers made it three in a row against K-M in a 62-51 victory at Mayo Civic Auditorium for a third consecutive trip to the Class 3A girls state basketball tournament.
"We never allowed them to make a run," Red Wing head coach Dave Muelken said. "If you don't shoot well, you better play defense and rebound well."
And the Wingers had quite the time getting shots to fall. They went 22 of 60 from the field, and leading scorer Tesha Buck took 30 shots in the win. She finished 9-for-30 with 28 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and five steals.
Buck went through stretches of hitting everything and then went cold. Much like the Section 1AAA semifinal against Austin where she shot 7-for-20, Buck knew she needed to keep firing while also impacting the game with her athleticism and court vision.
"I've always been told as a shooter that you're not going to make them if you don't shoot them," Buck said. "If that happens, I try to get my teammates the ball."
McKenzie Muelken had 13 points and eight rebounds, filing in as Macy Kelly, Red Wing's second-leading scorer, missed much of the first half with foul trouble. Kelly had nine points and eight rebounds while Kara Norvet contributed seven points, four rebounds and four assists.
The KoMets were led by Cori Kennedy, who scored 12 of her 15 points in the first half. Erin Schlotthauer had 14 points and Abby Manitz added 12 points.
Buck started the game right for the Wingers with a steal and a layup in the opening seconds before Kennedy caught fire. Kennedy poured in four 3-pointers in the first half, with her third 3-pointer giving K-M a 19-16 lead with 7 minutes, 57 second remaining before halftime.
"We prepared for her to shoot," Dave Muelken said of Kennedy. "We didn't want to let Schlotthauer get it on the block and we didn't want to give Manitz layups. We had to pick and choose."
Red Wing got its answer in Buck, who hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 points in little more than four minutes. Her third 3-pointer put the Wingers up 30-23 at the 3:36 mark. The KoMets followed with an 8-2 run before Norvet sank a 15-foot jump shot as time expired, sending Red Wing into halftime leading 34-31.
The space K-M found on offense in the first half disappeared after halftime. In the second half, McKenna Schaffer upped her defensive intensity and locked down Kennedy. Schaffer had four steals in the game but also forced multiple jump balls and bad decisions by the KoMets, who finished with 13 turnovers.
"McKenna was a stud today. She was relentless," Dave Muelken said. "(K-M) is going to be so glad to see her go."
Kelly had just two points at halftime and looked flustered but she showed resilience when the Wingers needed her. From 6:19-2:16 of the second half, Kelly tallied seven points and gave Red Wing a 56-45 lead with her final basket.
"She could have quit and said, 'It's not my night,'" Dave Muelken said. "Those post-ups were huge. She didn't hang her head; she kept fighting."
The Wingers' largest lead of the night was 58-45 with 1:31 left and Buck made four free throws in the final minute to seal the victory.
Seeding for the Class 3A will take place Sunday. The first round of the tournament begins Wednesday at Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis.
"It never gets old," Dave Muelken said of heading back to state. "It's very special. The experience is incredible."
Buck added, "Now, we got to make sure we get to state and do something there."