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Girls Basketball: Hayfield's run stops Z-M in quarterfinals

Zumbrota-Mazeppa's Taylor Blakstad goes to the ground for a loose ball against a Hayfield player during the first half of Monday's Section 1AA quarterfinal game at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)1 / 2
Zumbrota-Mazeppa's Lyndsey Quam (left) tries to drive around Hayfield's Sophia Waldner during the first half of Monday's Section 1AA quarterfinal game at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)2 / 2

ROCHESTER – With losses of 30 and 43 points during the regular season against Hayfield, Zumbrota-Mazeppa knew it would be an uphill battle to knock off the second-seeded Vikings in the Section 1AA tournament.

But over the first eight minutes of Monday's section quarterfinal game, the 10th-seeded Cougars gave Hayfield some pause, forcing the Vikings to take a timeout with 7 minutes, 23 seconds to go before halftime.

“That's something they haven't had to do before,” said Z-M head coach Scott Paukert.

But Hayfield is highly regarded for a reason. And over the last six-and-a-half minutes of the first half, the Vikings destroyed any hope of a comeback with a 23-4 run to end the half. Hayfield eventually left the Mayo Civic Center with a 61-35 victory to advance to the section semifinals.

“We started pretty well, but our defense just couldn't stop them,” said Z-M freshman post Ali Hustad. “They hit a lot of outside shots. I think we had the two previous games in our head and kind of let ourselves drop from there.”

With Lyndsey Quam hitting some jump shots away from the post and Hunstad finding enough room to finish with a team-high 17 points, the Cougars managed to keep things close. Then after a pair of free throws from Hunstad and a layup by reserve Megan Johnson, Hayfield decided to take a 30-second breather to adjust.

“At that point, we were doing a fairly decent job of taking care of the ball and they weren't getting those second-chance opportunities in that first 10 minutes of the game,” Paukert said.

The Vikings' offensive rebounding became overwhelming even against the Cougars' zone defense as Kate Kruger started the first-half run with a pair of putbacks, followed by an Olivia Matti layup. From there, the Vikings started hitting shots from the outside,k with a 3-pointer from Kruger, a deep two by Matti and back-to-back threes from Maggie Streightiff turned the tide for good.

“They have multiple shooters outside so you can't just shut one down,” Hunstad said. “You have to have all defenders ready to go.”

The Vikings had three players – Streightiff (14), Matti (13) and Carrie Rutledge (10) – finish with double-digit points with Kruger and Sophia Waldner not far behind with seven apiece.

“The last eight or nine minutes (of the first half), they were getting really easy putbacks,” Paukert said. “That was probably the main thing in this game.”

Behind Hunstad, Natalie Majerus scored all eight of her points in the second half, followed by four from Quam.

With the win, Hayfield will face third-seeded Rochester Lourdes in the section semifinals Saturday after the Eagles disposed of sixth-seeded Caledonia on Monday night, 60-48.

Z-M ends the 2016-17 season at 12-14 overall, with the hope that the young roster will take another step next year.

“We're young so we got a few years left,” Hunstad said. “With Lauren (Miller) back next year (after a knee injury), we should be able to do some stuff inside together. I'm looking forward to it.”

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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