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Girls Basketball: Z-M fends off Lake City

ZUMBROTA – Tuesday's Hiawatha Valley League matchup between visiting Lake City and host Zumbrota-Mazeppa got off to a slow start. A really slow start.

The Cougars hit a free throw 30 seconds into the game, and the Tigers answered with a field goal a little less than a minute-and-a-half later. That shot, which gave Lake City a 2-1 lead, came with 16:47 on the clock. The next basket, an and-one from Z-M's Makayla Arendt, came at 13:03. That sparked a 10-0 run for the Cougars, which lasted until Julia Anderson's 3-pointer broke the Tigers' nearly eight-minute drought.

Lake City would eventually climb all the way back, taking a halftime lead and a 39-30 advantage with 12:55 to go in the game. But Z-M would take advantage of several Tiger turnovers, and some poor foul shooting, for a 61-53 victory.

“It was a sluggish start, but we had some nice moments when we got in our press,” said Lake City head coach Clay Olstad. “But after that, it was a sloppy finish. We turned over the ball, just not taking care of things.”

That gave Z-M the opening it needed to get back over .500 at 6-5 overall and 3-4 in HVL play. And after losing star center Lauren Miller and two-year starting forward Miranda Mollenhauer to preseason torn ACLs, Cougars head coach Scott Paukert is happy about his team's record through 11 games.

“Right now, we're pleasantly surprised. We're still not as consistent as I would like, but we seem to have a different person stepping up each game,” Paukert said. “Mikayla Arendt had a big game tonight at 24 (points) and 19 (rebounds). We were patient in the second half feeding her the ball and she got some easy baskets.”

After Z-M cut Lake City's lead to 25-23 coming out of halftime, the Tigers scored 14 of the next 20 points, nine of which came from behind the arc. Allison Kubista, taking on a larger scoring role as the Tigers figure out a way to deal with a hobbled Daynalyn Jostock, hit two 3-pointers in that span, and five in the game as part of her 22 points. Deandra Oelkers also hit from deep in the second half, finishing with 10 points, the only other Tiger in double figures.

“Like I said, we had a really good stretch there,” Olstad said. “We just ran out of gas.”

But up 39-30, Z-M went on a 10-0 run, then stacked an 11-5 run on top of that for a 51-46 lead. The post play was a factor, as was Lake City missing the front end of two one-and-ones, and the backends of two double-bonus free-throw attempts while the Cougars converted three and-ones and 5 of 8 other free throws over the final 12:40.

Ali Hunstad had nine points as the high for Z-M behind Arendt, and the Cougars came up with 12 steals, led by Arendt's six. Arendt nearly matched Lake City in thefts (8-6) and rebounds (22-19).

“Mikayla and Ali Hunstad, a freshman, she's stepped up for us, too, and that's really our only size,” Paukert said. “And we hit just enough free throws down the stretch.”

Z-M will try for its second three-game winning streak this season with a home game against Hayfield on Friday. Lake City (7-4, 2-4) hosts Rochester Lourdes the same night.

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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