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Girls Basketball: Z-M routs Bethlehem Academy

It took a little while for Zumbrota-Mazeppa to find its groove Thursday night, but once the Cougars did, Bethlehem Academy acted as though it didn’t hear the music.

Trailing by two points early on, Z-M was able to slowly take over the game. With 9 minutes, 40 seconds left in the first half, the Cougars went up by 10. By the time the halftime buzzer sounded, Z-M was up 25 en route to a 56-23 nonconference victory over the Cardinals.

“It was a good defensive effort, but we had quite a few steals and they had some turnovers, so that had something to do with it,” said Z-M head coach Scott Paukert on giving up just 25 field goal attempts. “I was a little frustrated at the beginning of the game. We were down 6-4, and I was a little worried because we knew this is a team that is really young and they’re struggling. And we didn’t have that intensity coming out that I had hoped. But then we slowly hit a few shots.”

Bethlehem Academy may have kept things close early, but much of that was due to Z-M not pounding the ball inside to Carlie Henning and Hailey Dykes. Once the post became the focal point of the Cougars’ offense, there was little the Cardinals – who have no player taller than 5-foot-8 – could do against the 5-9 and 5-10 Z-M duo.

“I got a little more confident coming out of the first half,” Dykes said of scoring eight of the Cougars’ first 12 points in the second half. “I was just frustrated with myself, so I kind of got back in it. And they’re all a lot shorter than me, so that helps  too.”

Dykes finished the game with 15 points, seven rebounds and two steals while Henning posted 11 points, 12 rebounds and three steals. Alyssa Quam and Molly Lawler each added seven points. And though it was just the eighth win of the season for the Cougars (8-10 overall, 5-8 Hiawatha Valley League), it’s a step in the right direction with a soft schedule ahead.

“We’re at Triton (Friday) and we get Cannon Falls (at home Tuesday),” Paukert said. “Those are games we can win, and we’ll need to with Pine Island, Kenyon-Wanamingo and Goodhue after that.”

Indeed the schedule gets tough at the end, but Paukert likes it that way.

“If all goes well, we could get the sixth seed (in the Section 1AA playoffs), and that might mean we face Dover-Eyota,” Paukert said. “And I’d rather have those tough games to prepare for that.”

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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