Girls Basketball: Wingers dominant in section openerTop-seeded Red Wing advances in the Section 1AAA tournament with ease in a 65-27 victory over Faribault
By: Joe Brown, The Republican Eagle
By halftime, the top-seeded Red Wing girls basketball team was cruising along with a 36-20 lead over 8th-seeded Faribault in the first round of the Section 1AAA tournament.
In the second half, the Wingers’ defense played at a whole new level.
Holding the Falcons to just three field goals and seven points in the second half, Red Wing advanced with ease with a 65-27 home victory on Wednesday.
“The second half, we definitely picked it up,” said Wingers senior guard Tesha Buck. “We just got to keep getting better from here.”
Red Wing head coach Dave Muelken added, “We knew we were going to get their best shot, so to hold anyone to seven points, that’s a pretty solid defensive effort.”
With the victory, the Wingers host fourth-seeded Austin at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Packers advanced with a 59-51 victory over No. 5 Waseca on Wednesday.
It didn’t take long for Red Wing to assert their dominance over Faribault, jumping out to a 15-2 lead after consecutive 3-pointers by Macy Kelly, Buck and McKenna Schaffer. As a team, the Wingers (19-7) hit five 3-pointers in the first half, with Buck and Schaffer hitting two apiece.
“Coach tells us to work it in, so we work it in and our outside shots are open,” Schaffer said, “so it’s the inside players that help us out there.”
Schaffer scored all 10 of her points in the first half, helping Red Wing to a 16-point halftime lead.
“With sections, I just got that sense of urgency,” Schaffer said. “I just got to leave it on the court now with the last few games as a senior.”
Holding a 39-22 lead with 16 minutes, 19 seconds left, the Wingers pounded the ball inside for the rest of the game, going on a 15-0 run, with 14 points coming from the paint. Funneling in its bench players, Red Wing ended Wednesday’s game by scoring 11 of the last 13 points for the 38-point victory.
While the defense suffocated Faribault’s offense, it was the complete effort on offense and defense that Muelken came away impressed with.
“We played really good for 18 minutes,” he said. “We only gave them two offensive rebounds and we only committed two turnovers in the second half. We didn’t give them many second-chance opportunities.
“Our defensive pressure was better and we kept them in front of us. I don’t think they had any open shots, and any shots they did get off were contested.”
Buck had a game-high 21 points, and also finished with six rebounds, five steals and four assists. Kelly tallied 11 points and six rebounds, and McKenzie Muelken added nine points in the Red Wing victory.
Riann Bonde led Faribault (1-25) with 12 points, and Abbey Helgeson had seven in the loss.
Red Wing got a lift off its bench with the return of junior forward Hailey Kuhl, who finished with six points and four rebounds. Kuhl missed the final three games of the regular season after suffering a concussion at Academy of Holy Angels on Feb. 12.
“She creates a lot of positive plays and hustle plays,” Muelken said of Kuhl. “It’s nice to have her back in the mix.”