Hayfield causes problems, tops Goodhue in finale
For a team ranked in the top five, there is no better opponent to face heading into the playoffs than another ranked team. Goodhue, No. 4 in Class A, got that chance on Friday, hosting No. 3 Hayfield in the final regular season game for both teams.
The Vikings, who beat the Wildcats in early January, took advantage of several Goodhue turnovers for a 72-58 victory and a season sweep. Hayfield also clinched the Hiawatha Valley League Blue Division and a spot in Monday's conference championship game against Stewartville.
The Wildcats opened the game with six turnovers in the first eight minutes, including two-straight to open the game. That helped the Vikings take a 28-11 lead with six minutes, 11 seconds left in the first half. But the Wildcats eventually responded to a flurry of timeouts.
"I remember Arianna (Thomforde) on our fourth possession just threw the ball at the backboard and I thought, 'Well, it's a shot at least,'" said Goodhue head coach Josh Wieme. "They came at us with extremely aggressive defense. Eventually we found openings and the kids got composed. But they came at our guards hard and put us in tough spots."
Wieme said that Hayfield used a full-court press in the first game, but that they did not play as aggressively as they did Friday. And some of that aggression helped Goodhue, which forced the Vikings into six turnovers in the first half, a few of which came during a 12-0 run that pulled the Wildcats within seven with 45 seconds left in the first half.
But Hayfield, which went scoreless for almost five minutes, swapped layups with Goodhue, then finished the half with a 3-pointer from Elecia Brown at the buzzer.
As much as Brown's shot hurt, it was followed by the Wildcats coughing up possession five more times in the first five minutes of the second half. That overshadowed Sydney Lodermeier scoring six points in the first six minutes to get on track offensively after Thomforde led Goodhue with 11 points in the first half.
The Wildcats did get Hayfield's lead to single digits a couple times, but a couple 3-pointers from Brooke Bungum, and a three-point play from Carrie Rutledge at 10:42 pushed the lead to 15 and there was little threat to the Vikings' win from there.
Rutledge had 17 points for the Vikings, who also got 16 from Emma Holst and 13 from Brown. Lodermeier ended up as the scoring leader for Goodhue with 18 while Thomforde added 15.
Along with Lyle-Pacelli, the top-ranked team in Class A, a return trip to the state tournament is going to be a fight. L-P (25-1), Hayfield (22-4) and Goodhue (19-7) will likely be seeded in that order for the Section 1A tournament that begins next week.
"We've had a lot thrown at us, so there should be no surprises. There's a good chance we see Hayfield again, and soon," Wieme said. "What better way to get ready for the postseason than play one of the best teams in the state. We just have to get a little better."