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GOODHUE — Pace. That was the main key for Friday's Hiawatha Valley League game between Zumbrota-Mazeppa and Goodhue. The Cougars wanted to play the game at a breakneck speed. The Wildcats wanted to put things in slow motion. "They're very disciplined and help out each other," said Z-M senior guard Isaiah Nolte. "We knew it would be a slower game so we wanted to pick up the tempo by pressing them right away and pushing the ball." The first half played more to Goodhue's strength. But once Z-M got sprinting, the Wildcats were not going to catch up.
The captains of the Red Wing boys' swimming and diving team have high expectations. And with new head coach Mikayla Beuch in the mix this winter, the Winger boys wanted to make sure they were all on the same page. "We got into it really early," said senior William Meacham. "Us captains went to her early and said what are the expectations, this is our expectations, this is our traditions and we're going to respect what you'll teach us."
Red Wing could not ask for a better start against Rochester Lourdes. The Wingers were plenty motivated after shocking the Eagles in the Section 1A semifinals last year and put up two quick special teams goals. But Lourdes tied things up before the end of the first period. And the Eagles were able to keep the pressure on with a 6-3 win against Red Wing Saturday at Prairie Island Arena.
Early in the first and second halves, Red Wing could keep pace with Stewartville. But as the minutes dragged on and players got tired, the Tigers were able to outlast the host Wingers on Friday. Ending the first half on a 19-6 run, followed by a 19-0 finish to the game, Stewartville spoiled Red Wing's season opener with a 70-42 victory in the Red Wing tip-off tournament.
Red Wing took a loss on Thursday, but got an important lesson out out of it: The defense is good enough to lift the team on a bad shooting night. In an early-season showdown of two top-10 Class AAA teams, the Wingers had a 45-44 lead with 41 seconds to go despite shooting 26 percent on the night. But, Northfield would leave Sonju Gymnasium with the 46-45 victory after Annika Hoff scored the game-winning layup with 19 seconds remaining. A last-second 3-point attempt by Red Wing's Lindsay Reps bounced off the rim to secure the Raiders' win.
The Big Nine Conference is bound to be as grueling as ever. So it's fitting that Red Wing boys' basketball coach Drew Olinger says he has a squad full of scrappy players. Being scrappy, according to Olinger, is the way the Wingers will try to climb out of the conference cellar after going 7-20 in his first season with the team.
If you beat Tatum Pickar once, good on you. Not many balls get past a two-time All-State libero. The next time you try the same thing on the Cannon Falls senior standout, she's going to come out ahead. "It is frustrating," Pickar said about watching a ball hit the floor. "But once I see it pass, I'm not going to let another one like that pass again."
For the first time in five years, the Red Wing girls' basketball team left as the top team in its own tip-off tournament. And the Wingers pulled it off with a convincing win over the two-time defending Class A champions. Led by a defense that didn't allow a double-digit scorer, Red Wing fought off top-ranked Goodhue for a 46-39 victory Saturday at Sonju Gymnasium. "I'm so proud of the defensive effort," said Wingers head coach Jesse Nelson. "It was a team effort."
With Red Wing's offense stalling, Waconia took advantage, pulling to within a point in the second half of Friday's Red Wing tip-off tournament matchup against the host Wingers. Then, Tayzha Buck hit a 3-pointer. Then another. And another. And in a three-minute span, Red Wing hit six shots from the outside and turned what looked like a nail-biter into a convincing 67-52 season-opening win.
In the quest for a third straight Class A title, Goodhue has to blend the old with the new. With a lineup that incorporates three freshmen, it was senior standout Sydney Lodermeier that solidified the top-ranked lineup in a 52-39 victory against River Falls in the Red Wing tip-off tournament on Friday. The best way for Goodhue to mix youngsters on a team with deep postseason aspirations?