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Girls Basketball: PEM too deep for Lake City

A quick glance at the bench during a basketball game can speak volumes about a team. A lot of players in T-shirts and warm-up pants could mean the starters on the floor might be in for a long night. Three or four players shedding their pregame attire and looking at the scorers’ table means a coach has the pieces to fit almost any puzzle.

Anyone in attendance Thursday at Lincoln High School saw that dichotomy play out over the course of 25 minutes of action as Plainview-Elgin-Millville used a deep and talented roster to push past Lake City, 67-49.

“We’re not deep this year, and that’s just how it is,” said Lake City head coach Candace Dudley. “Our bench is full of freshmen and underclassmen, which is exciting for the future, but, for this year, there is quite a few girls that we expect to play start to finish. And to be in that kind of shape is going to take a lot of work. And we can’t expect to be in that kind of shape three games in(to the season).”

While the Tigers did everything they could to keep up with the Bulldogs, eventually PEM was able to plunge into its depth and keep the pace of play frantic enough that Lake City’s starters faded.

Before the Tigers’ legs let them down, however, Lake City managed to make the nonconference game entertaining. Both teams sprinted up and down the court nearly the entire game, sometimes scoring, sometimes turning the ball over. But rarely did either team have to get into a half-court set for more than a few seconds.

That pace seemed to please both sides.

“We were working really hard, and we knew we wanted to beat these guys. So we went as hard as we could right there, and I’m glad we were ahead when it came to halftime,” said Lake City junior guard Breanna Gates.

The Bulldogs jumped out to a 7-0 lead before a Gates 3-pointer got the Tigers on the board. PEM responded by stretching its lead to 13-5 before Gates and Madi Green scored five straight points. And with the exception of a brief, six-point Bulldogs lead, Lake City stayed right with PEM before finally taking its first lead, 27-26, on a Bailey Cronin field goal.

The Tigers held on to take the slimmest of margins into the break at 29-28.

But the advantage would slip away almost immediately as PEM’s Sarah Hart took over, scoring six of the Bulldogs next 10 points, and assisting on the two other baskets.

“She’s a talented player, and strong, too,” Dudley said. “She can shoot, she can drive, she can do anything. She’s a talent.”

Hart would finish with 16 points, six assists, five steals and four rebounds in 23 minutes. That time on the floor led PEM, but the Bulldogs played nine players for six minutes or more. The Tigers’ starters – Gates, Green, Croinin, Lindy Holmstadt and Lilly Johnson – sat for very brief periods of time.

That allowed PEM to quickly put the game away in the final 10 minutes as Hart continued to push the pace with eight different jersey numbers rotating in and out.

But the Tigers were able to hang with a good, athletic team, and got the lead in the first half, something two things that have Dudley looking up. And if Gates, Cronin, Green (10 points), Johnson (8) and Holmstadt find their legs, and a couple of younger girls can crack the rotation, the games will shorten as the bench gets longer.

“The last two games we’ve had, we came out flat in the first half,” Dudley said. “That was a focus for us tonight, that we needed to come out from the jump and play a full game from start to finish. And I think we did that. We ran out of gas towards the end of the game, obviously, but the first half was excellent basketball.”

The Tigers (1-2) will head to Spring Valley to face Kingsland at 4 p.m. Saturday, then host Rochester Lourdes at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday.

Kyle Stevens
Kyle Stevens is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, Kyle worked at the Owatonna People’s Press, as well as KWLM and KLFN in Willmar. You can contact Kyle by phone at (651) 301-7879, via e-mail at, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
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