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Girls Basketball: Guard play the difference in Tigers' win over Panthers

Lake City’s Breanna Gates (11) puts up a runner over Ellsworth’s Latacia Kuhl during Friday’s game at Lincoln High School in Lake City. Gates scored all 11 of her points in the second half in the Tigers’ 70-66 victory. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)1 / 2
Ellsworth's Kelsey Betthauser (left) shoots over Lake City's Bailey Cronin during Friday's game in Lake City. Betthauser led all scorers with 33 points in the Panthers' loss. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)2 / 2

LAKE CITY – While Ellsworth’s Kelsey Betthauser and Lake City’s Madi Green were in the midst of a scoring duel, the Tigers’ supporting cast made the biggest difference. 

Lilly Johnson scored 14 points, Bailey Cronin had 10 and Breanna Gates put in all 11 of her points after halftime. Add that to Green’s 23 and the Tigers were able to get past the Panthers in a 70-66 victory Friday at Lincoln High School.

“The difference tonight was that our guards were able to step up,” said Lake City head coach Candace Dudley. “Our post players were about even with theirs, but our guards came up big.”

Both teams were unable to break away in the first half for a big lead. The biggest gap came when Betthauser scored on a layup with 10 minutes, 8 seconds left before halftime to put the Panthers up 14-9. Immediately following the basket, Lake City went on a 5-0 run to tie the game at 14 after a layup by Green. 

The two post players – Betthauser and Green – continued to duke it out through the first 18 minutes as Lake City went into the locker room with a 35-34 lead. Betthauser had 22 first-half points while Green had 17. Betthauser finished the night with a game-high 33 points. 

“We’ve been getting that kind of production from Kelsey all season,” said Ellsworth head coach John Kleppe. “She probably had about 15 boards, too. She’s a good athlete and she knows I expect her to go the distance in most games.”

Once the two teams came back on the court, Lake City’s other scorers helped shoulder the load, putting the Tigers up 49-38 with 14:34 left. Soon after, Lake City got a scare when Green rolled her ankle and collapsed on the court. 

“I don’t know what happened. I just came down on it wrong,” said Green, who also hauled in 14 rebounds.

Between Green’s injury and some chippy play between the two teams, the Tigers didn’t slow down as they went up by 13 with 13:24 left.

“In a tough game like that, you just have to get tougher,” Green said. “That’s what I try to do when I’m out there.”

Ellsworth managed to make it a two-point game with 5:38 left as Briana DeGross hit a bucket that capped off a 7-2 run. During that span, the Panthers got an extra boost when Dudley was issued a technical foul.

The Tigers would not be denied as the Green hit a hook shot that put the Tigers comfortably ahead by five with 1:53 left. 

“It was nice to see them finish strong, make free throws, break the press and come away with the win,” Dudley said.

Lake City (5-4) heads to St. Charles on Jan. 4, while Ellsworth (0-6) hosts St. Croix Lutheran on Jan. 3.

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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