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Goodhue's Kali Ryan (right) tries to drive past White Bear Lake's Alison Hinch during the first half of Saturday's Rochester Rotary Tournament championship game. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)

Girls Basketball: White Bear Lake edges Goodhue for Rotary title

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ROCHESTER – High pressure defense and fast-paced offense have been the hallmarks of the Goodhue girls basketball team. Turns out, in Saturday’s Rochester Rotary Tournament championship game, that was the same style of play White Bear Lake utilized.

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“They really get out and they guard hard,” Goodhue head coach Josh Wieme said. “I think we’re very similar, but they’re a little deeper and that showed at the end.”

While Goodhue was aggressive in getting to the free-throw line to manufacture points, White Bear Lake hit 11 3-pointers, including seven in the second half as the seventh-ranked (4A) Bears clinched the tournament title with a 61-54 victory at the Mayo Civic Center.

“Our passing against their zone was getting open shots,” said Bears guard Alison Hinch, who scored White Bear Lake’s final 11 points to clinch the victory. “We just had to hit (the 3-pointers) when they were open.”

The Wildcats’ three losses have come against teams (Hayfield, Kasson-Mantorville, White Bear Lake) with a combined record of 25-4. All three loses were tight, and Saturday’s loss came against a top-10 team in Class 4A, but Wieme and the Goodhue squad aren’t making excuses.

“Eventually, we need to find a way to win against these good teams if we want to be one,” Wieme said. “It’s just a couple times, a couple possessions that make the difference. … If you want to be that good team, you have to find a way to win those games.”

Trailing 25-16 late in the first half, Goodhue scored the last seven points of the half to go in the locker room down 25-23. Keeping the Wildcats in striking distance was their free-throw shooting as the team shot 11 of 14 from the line in the first 18 minutes. They finished the game 24-for-28 at the free-throw line.

Up 39-37 with 9 minutes, 57 seconds remaining in the game, the Bears’ Niki Daul gave her team some breathing room by hitting two straight 3-pointers in the corner. Another Daul 3-pointer with 7:58 gave White Bear Lake an 11-point lead, 50-39.

“It’s really hard to fly around to all their shooters,” the Wildcats’ Mikayla Miller said about covering the Bears’ perimeter shooters. “It’s even tougher when they have good post players, too.”

But Miller wasn’t going to let Goodhue go down quietly. The Wildcats’ all-time leading scorer head 20 of her game-high 31 points in the second half, including a pair of free throws that tied the game at 50-50. Miller also finished with six rebounds.

“Mikayla just carried us in the second half,” Wieme said.

Then with 3:34 left, Kali Ryan put the Wildcats up 52-51 after sinking a pair from the charity line.

But the outside shot was White Bear Lake’s great equalizer as Hinch hit back-to-back 3-pointers to keep the Wildcats down for good.

“This was a really good test for us,” Miller said. “It’s kind of upsetting that we fell short, but they were good shooters that could hit contested shots with hands in their faces.”

Shelby Hinsch had eight points and six rebounds, and Kali Ryan finished with seven points and four boards in the loss. For the Bears, Hinch hit five 3-pointers on the way to 23 points, and Daul sank four 3s in an 18-point outing.

The fourth-ranked (1A) Wildcats are back in Hiawatha Valley League play Jan. 7 at home against Pine Island.

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