Girls Basketball: Sharp-shooting Wingers advance
Guard play is going to be Red Wing’s bread and butter for the short term, and that was obvious on Friday as the Wingers opened the season with an 80-54 victory over Minneapolis North in the Red Wing Tip-Of Tournament at Sonju Gymnasium.
“It makes us look smart when the girls shoot like they did,” said first-year head coach Jesse Nelson. “Shooting is not what we’re going to live and die with, but that’s the game plan going in, that’s what we’re going to start with. And hopefully that opens up the inside game.”
The Wingers shot 30 total 3-pointers in the game, and hit 14 of them, including 12 in the first half en route to a 46-20 advantage at the break.
“When you shoot that well, you just go with it,” Nelson said.
The inside game struggled early for Red Wing, but the Wingers did find some room in the second half. But a poor performance from the free-throw line (12 of 23) did cause a bit of concern.
“It’ll come around. It will continue to be an emphasis,” Nelson said. “That is in the ‘Can improve’ column.”
Defensively, Red Wing played well on the perimeter, but had trouble crashing the glass. That led to a lot of second scoring chances for the Lady Polars, which North cashed in on. But the long-range advantage kept the Wingers out to a comfortable lead.
“We gave up too many second chances,” Nelson said. “In the first half we didn’t shut down the right side of the floor. And our goal going in was to not allow that. But in the second half we did better forcing the off hand to the left.”
Three Wingers scored in double digits on Friday, including Tayzha Buck’s game-high 23 points. Lindsay Reps had 21, and Morgan Zebro added nine. Buck hit six 3-pointers, with Reps adding four and Zebor three. Buck also led the team with seven rebounds while McKayla “Bubba” Muelken had eight assists and three steals.
Serena Ballard led North with 16 points, with teammate Alani Pettis adding 14. No other Lady Polar scored more than seven points.
With the victory, Red Wing (1-0) moves on to face Goodhue (1-0) at 3:30 p.m. in the tournament championship game. The defending Class 1A state champion Wildcats suffocated River Falls, Wis. in the opener on Friday, 58-27.