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State Girls Basketball: Goodhue claws back, moves on

The Goodhue bench celebrates after the Wildcats clinched a 65-58 victory in the Class 1A state quarterfinals over Ada-Borup Thursday at Mariucci Arena. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)1 / 4
Goodhue's Mikayla Miller cuts through the Ada-Borup defense for a layup during the second half of Thursday's Class 1A quarterfinal game at Mariucci Arena. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)2 / 4
Goodhue eighth-grader Sydney Lodermeier sets up for a free-throw try late in the second half in Thursday's Class 1A quarterfinal game against Ada-Borup at Mariucci Arena. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)3 / 4
The Goodhue student section cheers on the Wildcats during the first half Thursday. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)4 / 4

MINNEAPOLIS – In the biggest moment of Thursday’s Class 1A quarterfinals, Goodhue needed its youngest player to come through.

WIth the top-ranked and fourth-seeded Wildcats clinging to a 59-57 lead with 24.7 seconds remaining, eighth-grader Sydney Lodermeier stepped to the free-throw line. Even with the bright lights on the Mariucci Arena court, Lodermeier was unphased.

“Nothing was going through my head,” Lodermeier said. “I knew if I shot them the same way I do in practice, they’d go in.”

Sinking both free throws, Lodermeier and the rest of the Wildcats had the cushion it needed to finally put away fourth-ranked and fifth-seeded Ada-Borup in a grueling 65-58 victory.

“Sydney has had a big postseason. When you watch her play, she has poise and she doesn’t get rattled,” said Goodhue head coach Josh Wieme. “She’s not a finished product yet, but she’s not afraid of the big stage. Honestly, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that she was going to make those shots. She’s pretty solid.”

Lodermeier, who had 14 points off the bench, added, “It was really nerve-wracking, but we all stayed composed and it turned out fine.”

Now, the Wildcats (26-5) head to Williams Arena on Friday to take on defending Class 1A champion Minneota, which trounced Browerville 63-43.

Meanwhile, it was a bitter end for the Cougars (28-2), who led for over 25 straight minutes before Goodhue found some traction late in the second half.

“The ball didn’t bounce our way a couple times and it bounced their way a couple times, and that ended up being the difference,” said Ada-Borup head coach David Smart. “We knew coming in that Goodhue was going to be a tough matchup.”

With both teams trying to establish their high-pressure defenses early on, the Cougars finally took control after a layup by Haley Poehler to make it 10-8 with 12:09 left in the first half before securing a 30-26 halftime lead.

“It was a war out there for a while,” Smart said. “Bodies were flying everywhere.”

Goodhue was slowed down by a poor 3-for-7 first-half showing at the free-throw line. Meanwhile, the Cougars’ Monica Vega, who broke her nose two days before Thursday’s contest, limited the Wildcats’ top scorer, Mikayla Miller, to nine first-half points. Miller came in averaging 24.2 points per game.

“We didn’t know if she was going to be able to play. She has a compound fracture, but she’s a tough kid,” Smart said about Vega. “We found a mask for her, we threw that thing on and she said she was fine. You could tell it was bothering her a little.”

After the break, Ada-Borup’s defense continued to bother Goodhue, and the Cougars took their biggest lead of the game when a 3-pointer from Shanina Stevenson make it a 44-37 game with 12:56 remaining.

After struggling to find her shot through the first 29 minutes, Miller finally broke through and put the Wildcats back in contention. Down by six with 10:58 left, Miller scored the team’s next six points, including four off steals, to tie it at 45-45 with 10:21 left.

“Mikayla took a while to get going. They were obviously keying on her; they were sagging off and taking her away in the post,” Wieme said. “To her credit, she didn’t force it and eventually, she found her way.”

Ada-Borup went back up by four before Goodhue sophomore Michelle Hadler drilled a 3-pointer to cut the Cougars’ lead to 51-50 with 5:14 left.

“I hoped it was going in and it went in,” Hadler said with a smile, describing the 3-pointer. “It was awesome.”

A layup by Miller put Goodhue ahead 52-51, and the Wildcats never trailed the rest of the way. Ada-Borup wouldn’t go away, keeping it at a one-possession game before Lodermeier’s late free throws sealed the victory.

“They outplayed us at the end and that made the difference,” Smart said.

Hadler had nine points on 3 of 5 shooting for Goodhue, and Meredith Watson had six points, four rebounds and three steals in the victory.

We got some clutch plays,” said Miller, who had a game-high 25 points, 11 rebounds and four steals. “Those free throws (from Lodermeier) came in handy.”

Vega finished with 13 points and broke the 1,000-point plateau in the process. Stevenson added 13 points and five boards, and Lee finished with 10 points.

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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