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Girls Basketball: Wingers hold on, handle Shakopee

Red Wing's McKenna Schaffer (22) squares up against Shakopee's Hanna Zerr during the first half of Friday's Missota Conference game at Red Wing High School.1 / 3
Red Wing's McKenzie Muelken (left) heads up the baseline during the first half of Friday's Missota Conference game against Shakopee. Muelken was fouled on the play.2 / 3
Red Wing's Tesha Buck (12) starts the fast break as teammate McKenzie Muelken (13) rushes upcourt during the first half Friday against Shakopee.3 / 3

That familiar, uneasy feeling started to hit Red Wing as Shakopee tried to run its final set.

With 23.8 seconds remaining and the Wingers leading 52-51 in Friday's Missota Conference contest, Red Wing fouled on two straight inbounds plays, stunting some of the Sabers' pace as they tried to set up for a final shot. When Shakopee finally got a chance to set the offense, it was something the Wingers were all too familiar with.

"It was the same play they beat us with before," said Red Wing junior Kara Norvet, referring to their previous matchup on Jan. 25 which the Sabers won 49-46.

But this time, the Wingers had it sniffed out. With the defense swarming the ball-handler, Shakopee made an errant pass that went out of bounds, giving the ball back to Red Wing. On the ensuing possession, Macy Kelly hit a pair of free throws with 4.4 seconds remaining to make it a three-point game.

From half court, a desperation heave by the Sabers' Hanna Zerr went off the backboard as the Wingers left the gym with a 54-51 victory.

"Our girls had that last play sniffed out and doubled the ball handlers a lot earlier than last time and that was huge," said Red Wing head coach Dave Muelken.

In the first half, it was Shakopee's long-distance shooters giving the Wingers fits as the Sabers shelled out four 3-pointers before halftime for a 24-20 lead. Just seconds after the two teams hit the floor for the second half, Shakopee took a 27-20 lead following a 3-pointer by Taylor Koenen.

Then with 15:43 remaining, Norvet started heating up, hitting a 3-pointer. Then another. And another.

Dropping three consecutive 3-pointers, Norvet put Red Wing up 29-27 with 13:42 remaining. Though the Sabers would tie the game two more times, the Wingers never relinquished the lead for the rest of the game.

Trying desperately to climb back, Norvet said she wanted to step up for the team's three seniors - Kelly, Tesha Buck and McKenna Schaffer - during Red Wing's senior night. And her trio of threes helped pave the way.

"Once I see one go in, it felt right," said Norvet, who finished with 11 points, five rebounds and four assists. "I wanted to hit that fourth one a little after that, but that didn't go."

Red Wing had four players finish in double digits, led by Kelly, who had 14 points, six rebounds and six assists. Buck had 13 points, six rebounds and four assists, and McKenzie Muelken added 12 points in the win.

The Sabers got a game-high 18 points from Koenen, while Zerr added 15 in the loss.

On Sunday, the Wingers will find out their playoff fate when seedings are announced for Section 1AAA. First-round games begin on Wednesday.

Joe Brown

Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.

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