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Girls Basketball: Pressure helps Goodhue crack GHECTML

Goodhue's Emily Benrud (left) and GHECTML's Hanna Geistfeld dive for the loose ball during the first half of Thursday's Class 1A state quarterfinal game at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)1 / 5
Goodhue's Haley Lexvold (right) swarms a GHECTML player on defense during the first half of Thursday's Class 1A state semifinal at Mariucci Arena. The Wildcats had 17 steals in their 68-55 victory. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)2 / 5
Goodhue's McKenzie Ryan spots up for one of her four 3-pointers as part of a 14-point effort in the Wildcats' 68-55 victory in the Class 1A state quarterfinals Thursday at Mariucci Arena. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)3 / 5
Goodhue's Lexie Lodermeier (left) posts up a GHECTML player during the first half of Thursday's Class 1A state quarterfinal game at Mariucci Arena. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)4 / 5
Goodhue head coach Josh Wieme and the Wildcats' bench look on midway through the first half of Thursday's Class 1A state quarterfinal game against GHECTML at Mariucci Arena. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)5 / 5

MINNEAPOLIS – Goodhue's defense is a sort of anomaly.

After every bucket, the Wildcats make teams have to sprint down the floor to counter the full-court press. And because they can go deep into its bench without much of a drop-off defensively, playing against Goodhue can feel like a marathon condensed into 36 minutes.

Unseeded Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman/Martin Luther found out Thursday that size isn't enough against a team that will run you ragged. And the tenacity of the second-seeded Wildcats paid off in a 68-55 victory in the Class 1A state quarterfinals at Mariucci Arena.

“They have some big guards and they tried to dribble through (the press) a lot,” said Goodhue head coach Josh Wieme. “It's so wearing and sometimes that physicality is hard to go against. Then when you break the press, you have to execute on offense. It's a difficult thing when those kids put the pressure on.”

Senior guard Maddy Miller, who had three steals, added, “It was really fun to get into their heads a little bit and play defense aggressively and get steals.”

Facing a Jaguars starting five whose smallest player is 5-foot-6 and features two 6-foot players in Hanna Geistfeld and Kenlie Pytleski, the Wildcats got a boost from the outside thanks to senior guard McKenzie Ryan. Leading by one point with 3 minutes, 9 seconds remaining in the opening half, Ryan book-ended a 10-0 run with a pair of 3-pointers that put Goodhue ahead 33-22 at the break.

“My teammates were just getting me the ball open. They'd screen for me, do whatever they could to get it to me and I was open beyond the arc,” said McKenzie, who shot 4-for-7 from outside as part of a 14-point effort. “I'd shoot it and it would go in.”

And the defense and the depth did its job. With Sydney Lodermeier (10 points, seven rebounds, three steals) in foul trouble in the first half, the Wildcats went to its own imposing big, 6-3 sophomore Lexie Lodermeier to slow down Geistfeld and Pytleski. The duo shot a combined 9 of 23 from the field while Lexie came up with six points, seven rebounds and a block in 19 minutes.

“Lexie's play was so important today. She didn't come in as a stop-gap measure to buy us some time until Sydney came back. She was a real force and she did a great job of playing the right hand of 55 (Geistfeld),” Wieme said. “She was always in the right spot. She got some rebounds and she put some baskets in on the offensive end. … Lexie's play was fantastic and we needed it.”

And the back court created plenty of havoc, forcing GHECTML into 24 turnovers while coming up with 17 steals and 33 points off turnovers.

“They couldn't really handle the pressure we put on them really hard and they didn't know what they could do,” McKenzie said.

Maddy Miller (11) led Goodhue with 23 points in a 68-55 win over GHECTML Thursday. Miller led the way with 23 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Emily Benrud approached a double-double with 13 points, eight rebounds and four steals.

“We have a lot of players on the team that can sub in,” Miller said. “We know if we get subbed out that the pressure and energy is still going to be just as high because everyone works hard. … I think it was a different look for them, like, 'What are we going to do now?'”

Geistfeld finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds for GHECTML (26-5), followed by 12 points and rebounds for Pytleski and nine points from Alexis Brummond.

At 2 p.m. Friday at Williams Arena, Goodhue (26-4) will play for a state championship berth against third-seeded Cromwell-Wright after the Cardinals defeated unseeded Red Lake 71-41 in the quarterfinals Thursday.

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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