Girls Basketball: Lake City advances against Zumbrota-MazeppaLAKE CITY - Lake City’s post players Taylor Koller and Madi Green get most of the spotlight while Breanna Gates hovers under the radar.
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
LAKE CITY - Lake City’s post players Taylor Koller and Madi Green get most of the spotlight while Breanna Gates hovers under the radar.
On Thursday night, Gates took center stage for the Tigers in a 54-49 victory against Zumbrota-Mazeppa in the first round of the Section 1AA-West Sub-section.
“Breanna doesn’t get enough credit,” Lake City head coach Candace Olstad said. “She’s the only one on the team we ask to do everything. She has the heart and she has the guts.”
Gates, a sophomore, finished with 17 points and six rebounds while helping seal the victory with three free throws in the final 2 minutes, 18 seconds of the second half.
“She’s a special kind of player,” Olstad said. “She needs to have the ball in her hands when things get sticky.”
Not to be forgotten, Green and Koller had 14 points and 12 points, respectively. Green also had nine rebounds and Koller had five rebounds in the victory.
While the Tigers were able to seal the victory with 4 of 6 shooting from the free-throw line in the final minutes, they struggled for the game. Lake City (16-9) ended 17-for-31 from the line.
“It’s been a focus,” Olstad said of the Tigers’ free throw woes. “Games are going to come down to those.”
The Cougars (9-15) had difficulty making anything in the first half.
Z-M shot just 4 of 23 from the field before halftime but stayed close thanks to Laura Brunner. Brunner went 1-for-10 from the field in the game but made 9 of 11 free throws, including 7 of 8 before halftime. She also had eight rebounds.
“Brunner, she was the girl we were keying on,” Olstad said.
The Tigers jumped out to a 19-6 lead with 8:14 remaining in the first half before stalling offensively and allowing the Cougars back into the game. Lake City led 23-15 at halftime.
Z-M showed resilience coming out of the break and cut the lead to 23-20 on a 5-0 run by Kalli Paukert, who finished with nine points. The Tigers responded with an 11-4 run to grab a 10-point lead with 12:08 remaining in regulation. The Cougars continued to chip away and Paukert helped cut the deficit to 49-45 at the 2:30 mark but Lake City held on for the win. It was an early exit for Z-M after making the Class 2A girls state basketball tournament last season.
“We just got ourselves into too big of a hole,” Cougars head coach Scott Paukert said. “We battled back and didn’t give up and they’ve been there all year long.”
Z-M managed to hang around the entire half thanks to the play of Alyssa Stehr. She came off the bench to finish with 17 points and seven rebounds, with 13 points coming in the second half.
“Alyssa’s been our most improved player this year,” Scott Paukert said. “She just kept at it (Thursday) and that was the biggest thing. She just doesn’t let much faze here and we needed it big time obviously.”
Olstad said Thursday’s victory gives the Tigers’ their first section win in at least the last six seasons. Next up, Lake City will face second-seeded Pine Island Tuesday at the Mayo Arena in Rochester.
“For a sixth seed, they’re a tough team,” Olstad said of the Cougars. “Hopefully having a tough game tonight prepares us even better for Tuesday.”