TRACY - Junior Megan Petersen scored a game-high 26 points and hit an elbow jumper at the buzzer to give the Luverne girls basketball team a 45-44 non-conference win over Tracy-Milroy-Balaton Monday night at Tracy Area High School.
Petersen, a 5-foot-11 forward with a diverse inside-outside game, scored 11 of her team's 15 points in the first half, then added 15 points in the second half to help her team claw back from a nine-point deficit.
After a slow start against Luverne's zone defense, TMB (10-8 overall) grabbed a 19-15 lead on three-pointer by Kate Johnston with three seconds left in the first half. The Panthers led for nearly all of the second half, but missed four of six free throws in the final 1 minute, 41 seconds to leave the door open for the Cardinals. TMB finished the game 6-for-13 from the foul line.
Photo by Matt Dahlseid
Tracy-Milroy-Balaton’s Kate Johnston, left, drives baseline while Luverne’s Erica Marshall defends during the first half of Monday night’s non-conference game in Tracy.
The Panthers' shooting struggles from the free-throw line were coupled with a rough shooting night for much of the game, but TMB gained a second-half lead by playing tough defense, crashing the boards on both sides of the court and limiting its turnovers to a total of seven for the game.
TMB head coach Katie Gervais said she felt her team had done a lot of things right Monday and had no complaints about the Panthers' effort in what ended as a disappointing loss.
"I think the girls did everything we asked them to do. Unfortunately, you can ask them to make shots and they just don't always go in," Gervais said.
Megan Petersen 9 7-11 26, McKayla Schilling 1 1-2 4, Kirsten Olson 1 0-0 3, Tara Sudenga 6 0-0 12. Totals 17 8-13 45. Three-pointers 3 Total Fouls 14.
Cassandra Hook 2 3-7 7, Kelli Soupir 2 1-2 6, Tiffani Karbo 2 1-2 5, Kate Johnston 4 1-2 11, Ashley Daniels 1 0-0 2, Jenna Stoneberg 3 0-0 6. Totals 17 6-13 44. Three-pointers 4 (Johnston 2) Rebounds 28 (Stoneberg 11) Assists 12 (Johnston 3) Steals 7 Blocks 2 (Johnston 2) Turnovers 7 Total Fouls 11.
Halftime Score: TMB 19, Luverne 15.
"They ran our offense, they really worked hard tonight, I thought, but the scoreboard just didn't show it. I couldn't have asked for more effort out of them."
Luverne (8-11) only had four players score in the game. Forward Tara Sudenga added 12 points, and McKayla Schilling and Kirsten Olson combined for seven points.
TMB was led by Johnston, a senior guard who scored 11 points with three assists and two blocks. Freshmen Cassandra Hook and Sammie Gervais each added seven points, while forward Jenna Stoneberg had six points and a team-high 11 rebounds.
Each team struggled to score points against the opposition's defense in the first half, but three-pointers by Sammie Gervais and Johnston, as well as a layup by Hook off a Luverne turnover, helped the Panthers end the half on a 10-2 run.
Katie Gervais said it was TMB's disruptive defense that led to the late surge.
"At one time we were down 14-11 and I just felt like we were lucky to be in that position since we weren't shooting well," Gervais said. "But defensively, we were doing some good things.
"To end that half with some defensive plays and transition points kind of got us ahead a little bit. Our defense was definitely the key in us sticking with them in the game."
The Panthers started the second half with a baseline jumper by Stoneberg and a corner three-pointer by Johnston off an inbounds play to go up 24-15.
Luverne gradually chipped away at the lead, with Petersen and Sudenga carrying most of the load offensively. The Cardinals took a brief lead at 38-36 with 4:39 remaining when Schilling banked in a three from the top of the key, but TMB responded with baskets by Ashley Daniels and Stoneberg to quickly go back on top.
TMB held a three-point lead with 27.2 seconds left after Panther guard Kelli Soupir split a pair of free throws, and with 9.6 seconds left Petersen drew a foul by jumping into a Soupir on a three-point attempt. Petersen hit two of three foul shots to cut the lead to one and Luverne immediately fouled Hook to try to get a final shot.
Hook missed both of her free throws and Luverne called a timeout after getting a rebound with 6.4 seconds left. Out of the timeout, Petersen got the ball in the backcourt and dribbled up to the left wing, where she then spun to her right towards the left elbow and drained the game-winning shot as time expired.
As player who can handle the ball, go to work in the low post and hit shots from the perimeter, Petersen proved to be a tough cover for the Panthers on Monday.
"She had some good shots and we did a nice job on her defensively, doubling down at times," Gervais said. "The girls didn't want to foul at the end and that's just the way it goes. They did everything we asked them to do, but she just had a good night."
After winning six straight games, the Panthers have now lost their last two and will try to rebound against Lincoln HI on Thursday in Ivanhoe. Monday's game against Luverne was one of just five games against fellow Section 3AA opponents TMB has this season, and Gervais felt the game provided a good learning experience for her team.
"I just think, what a great experience for us. We have such a tough schedule these last six games,"?Gervais said. "I think the girls, if they learn anything from this it's that they can compete with some of these Southwest Conference teams we have coming up. I think they know they can compete with some of these teams, so I think it will be a positive experience for them.
"I'm not going to look at it as a loss but more of a 'we got a lot better tonight.'"
Luverne returns to Southwest Conference play Friday with a road game against conference-leading Marshall.