Girls' Basketball: Z-M, Goodhue fall in section semis
ROCHESTER — Zumbrota-Mazeppa ran into a problem on Saturday, and the Cougars and the rest of Section 1AA will have the next three years to figure out an answer. But there may not be one. At least not an easy remedy. Stewartville's Erin Lamb is a 6-foot-2 scoring machine. And though she's just a freshman, the Tiger carried her team to a 78-73 victory over Z-M in the section semifinals at Mayo Civic Auditorium.
"Erin is a phenomenal player, and we knew coming in that we had to stop her," said Cougars head coach Andy Bromeling. "And you know what? We had a hand in her face on every shot. She just made everything. She was incredible."
Lamb's 20 first-half points were the main reason top-seeded Stewartville held a 47-36 lead at halftime. And her five-points-in-41-seconds opening to the second half put fifth-seeded Z-M in a hole it could not find a way out of. After watching Stewartville's star hit all five of her 3-pointers, and 12 of 16 overall, Bromeling said if he had a chance to do it again, he would make some changes.
"We played zone all year, and we've been really good in it lately, especially after we beat Hayfield," Bromeling said. "Coming into this game, I thought we might need to play man, and looking back I would have played more man. But would've, could've, should've. Erin, as good as she is, she hit everything. Hats off to her and Stewartville."
After the Cougars scored the first five points of the game, Lamb, who also had 10 rebounds and eight blocks, got the Tigers on the board with her first 3-pointer. Then, with 13 minutes left in the first half, Stewartville went on a 9-0 run that turned a two-point deficit into a seven-point lead.
The Cougars pulled within three at the 10-minute mark, but the Tigers closed the final 2:42 of the half on a 13-4 run.
Z-M (21-7) did threaten late, scoring seven-straight points including a steal and layup from senior Lyndsey Quam to cut Stewartville's lead to 71-65. The Tigers held on from there, celebrating as Cougar senior Lauren Miller scored the final two points of her career on a pair of free throws with 0.5 seconds on the clock.
Quam, who tied for the team lead in points with 15 along with junior Hannah Mensink, and Miller, who finished with 12 points behind sophomore Ali Hunstad's 13, were among five seniors on a Z-M team that was introduced to a new coach and a new style just a few months ago. And while they won't be around to see if the Cougars eventually solve the Lamb problem, they did help usher in what Bromeling considers a big step in a new direction.
"I went into this year knowing we had a lot of athletes and that we needed to push the ball and let them be athletes. And we did that," Bromeling said. "I'm not disappointed at all. I'm really, truly happy for the girls because they got to play in a game they've never played in. We won 21 games this year. You can't be disappointed after that."
Eighth-ranked Stewartville (24-5) will face third-seeded Byron (18-10) on Friday with a trip to the state tournament on the line.
Hayfield 42, Goodhue 26
ROCHESTER — Sydney Lodermeier's legacy at Goodhue is unimpeachable. A two-time state champion, part of one of the most improbable comeback wins in Section 1A history and, for now, a two-time All-State selection.
That's what makes Saturday's 42-26 loss to Hayfield in the Section 1A semifinals all the more an anomaly. Lodermeier scored just five points in the game, including just two in the first half. But even after 18 minutes, the end didn't seem so near as the Vikings held a slim 21-20 lead at the break.
But then the obvious difference between the two-time defending state champion Wildcats and their opponent became a spotlight. Hayfield's four senior starters swarmed fourth-ranked Goodhue (21-8), forcing 20 turnovers for the game, many of which came in a nine-minute stretch to open the second half. By the end of that run, the third-ranked Vikings were ahead 34-23, holding the Wildcats to two points, one each on a Lodermeier free throw and an Arianna Thomforde free throw.
"The second half, we fell into old habits," Lodermeier said. "There were weak passes, unnecessary turnovers, and everybody looking at each other instead of doing it themselves. It was a very different look than what the first half was."
The lone Wildcat field goal in the second half was Lodermeier's, with 1:25 remaining in the game. Goodhue's leading scorer was junior Kate Opsahl, with seven. Torrie Rehder, a freshman, also had five. Hayfield got 10 points each from Carrie Rutledge and Olivia Matti, and nine from Kate Kruger.
The end of the ride may have been more abrupt for Lodermeier and her classmates imagined. But the path ahead looks a lot like it has in the recent past.
"I told the kids, I don't think I've been more proud of any team of reaching its potential and growing. This team has handled tougher situations than any that we've had," said Goodhue head coach Josh Wieme. "This team came every day to improve. You got a glimpse of what they could become. We played four freshmen and an eighth-grader today, in a section semifinal, against a senior-dominated team. And I'm proud of our upperclassmen for bringing them along. I hope Sydney enjoys watching this team over the next few years, because her fingerprints are all over it."
Hayfield (25-4) will face top-ranked and top-seeded Lyle/Pacelli (28-1) on Friday for the section title.