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Girls Basketball: Speedy Lexvold thrives as stopper

Goodhue's Haley Lexvold (3) squares up to Cromwell-Wright's Taya Hakamaki during the Class 1A state semifinals Friday at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)

MINNEAPOLIS – Haley Lexvold is Goodhue's pest. And it's a role she takes on with pride every time on the court.

One of the first players off the bench for the second-seeded Wildcats, the 5-foot-4 senior guard has become one of the most infuriating defensive players in southeast Minnesota and possibly all of Class 1A with her blazing speed and tenacious acumen guarding the ball handler.

“She certainly has embracaed it for two years straight now,” said Goodhue head coach Josh Wieme. “She knows – and I believe she feels incredible valued – how important her role is. She knows she can change a game when she comes into it. She just has that knowledge and confidence to come in and change the game as a defensive spark.”

She's one of the shortest players on the court and only puts in 1.5 points per game, but Lexvold knows in order to make the Wildcats' rotation, she needs something extra. Turns out, she's got enough closing speed on defense that if a player gets one step ahead of her, in a blink of an eye, Lexvold's two steps in front.

“I'm kind of short so I got to have something, so I use my quickness,” Lexvold said. “And when I see (opposing players) get frustrated, I go at them a little harder so they slow down a little bit.”

Lexvold, combined with guards like Maddy Miller and Emily Benrud, make the lives of opposing guards miserable with full-court presses and traps in the zone.

When Wieme takes Lexvold out for a breather, it never seems like she needs it.

“Her speed is incredible and the energy never stops. She never seems to run out of it,” Wieme said. “You can see the reactions of the girls she's playing against and defending. They can't believe it either. She's there again, she's not quitting and she's still with them. Just incredible quickness and incredible speed.”

Against a perimeter-oriented team like Cromwell-Wright in the state semifinals, that 100 miles-per-hour speed was needed to close out on the Cardinals' shooters. Lexvold and the rest of the Wildcats ended up holding the Cardinals to 6 of 31 from behind the arc.

“We realized they shoot a ton of threes, so we had to use our quickness to get a hand in their face and stop them so they can't do their basics,” said Lexvold, who tallied two points, three assists and a steal in 21 minutes.

And, her speed made what seemed like a dead play in the first half into an easy Goodhue bucket. With 2 minutes, 21 seconds before halftime, the ball got tipped into the C-W backcourt. Haley out-sprinted a Cardinals player for the loose ball and passed it toward the paint to a wide-open Maddy Miller for the transition layup and a 24-15 lead.

“She's not content with, 'OK, it's our ball, over-and-back.' She goes tearing after it, gets to the loose ball, beats the other girl and hits a teammates for a layup,” Wieme said. “That's that never quit and never going to settle that Haley has brought to our team for years.”

It's all in the name of being Goodhue's persistent pest.

“Going in as a starter, coming off the bench, it doesn't matter to me,” Lexvold said. “As long as I get on the court, I give my all using defense.”

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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