Girls Basketball: Red Wing returns to title gameTesha Buck can’t describe the feeling of making the state tournament last season. She’d rather just experience it again.
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
Tesha Buck can’t describe the feeling of making the state tournament last season. She’d rather just experience it again.
“That feeling is unexplainable,” Buck said. “You’d do anything for it.”
Buck, a junior averaging 18 points per game, and the Red Wing girls basketball team will get another chance this week.
The second-seeded Wingers (16-10, 6-8 Missota) will face top-seeded Kasson-Mantorville (26-2, 11-1 HVL Gold) Friday at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester. The winner will advance to the Class 3A girls state basketball tournament.
The KoMets lost just two games this season thanks to an athletic team that is deep and likes to pressure teams on the defensive end, Red Wing head coach Dave Muelken said.
“They’re going to press,” Muelken said. “They’re very skilled and we’re going to have to match their intensity level.”
Erin Schlotthauer, a 6-foot center, led K-M in scoring and Wingers senior Marisa Toivonen knows staying out of foul trouble will be crucial Friday.
“I’ve just got to focus on good defense and not getting fouls,” Toivonen said. “Not try to go for blocks and get back on defense. She sprints and gets baskets in transition.”
Toivonen averages 17 points per game and attacking Schlotthauer on the offensive end might be the best way to slow Schlotthauer, Toivonen said.
“I think that would be a good idea,” she said. “I’ll move around.”
Both teams have three players that average double digits in scoring but Buck’s ability to get to the rim and create for her teammates could be a difference maker.
“Just attacking more,” Buck said. “It causes the other team’s defense to collapse and gets teammates open. I need to do that more.”
Despite both teams averaging more than 60 points per game, the outcome of Friday’s game will come on the defensive end, Muelken said.
“It’ll still come down to defensive stops,” he said. “Don’t give them anything easy.”
Buck said the Wingers need to force turnovers and finish layups, something they struggled to do in the semifinal game against Austin. Red Wing averages more than 10 steals per game, including 26 versus Austin, but the Wingers shot just 30 percent from the field. They need to convert those turnovers into points, Buck said.
“We need to focus on what we do and what we can control,” she said. “Just playing our game.”
Red Wing also has the advantage of playing in a Section 1AAA final last season. The Wingers defeated New Prague 59-53 to reach the state tournament last year while the KoMets are playing their first season in Class 3A. Toivonen said the experience will help but Red Wing can’t go in too confident.
“We know what it’s like but we still have to play well and be ready because you never know what could happen,” Toivonen said. “We just have to be sure to be ready for them.”
The Section 1AAA final starts at 8 p.m.