MARSHALL - With 4 minutes, thirty-two seconds remaining in the Section 3A-North girls basketball semifinals Friday night, senior Riley Nordgaard scored the last basket in her dominating high school career to put third-seeded Canby within striking distance of second-seeded MACCRAY at 47-46.
Having recorded more than 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds during her last four years as a Lancer starter, Nordgaard certainly had the talent and confidence to rally towards victory, especially with the entire season on the line. She also had a strong core of senior leadership beside her. But it was not to be for the Lancers, who were held scoreless the remainder of the contest.
"I feel like I got punched in the stomach," Nordgaard said after the loss. "I've started since freshman year. It's been great. I'm going to miss it."
Photo by Jenny Kirk
Canby’s Ricki Kallhoff (23) has her shot defended by MACCRAY’s Teagan Molden (11) during Friday night’s Section 3A-North semifinal game in Marshall.
MACCRAY earned the 56-46 win, closing out the playoff game by going 7-for-12 at the line in addition to recording a steal and layup from senior Teagan Molden, who had a standout performance. Molden chipped in a game high 21 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, five steals and five blocked shots.
Canby head coach Kevin Hansen said his team knew coming in, that it was going to be a tough game against the Wolverines (23-4). Canby tossed MACCRAY from the post-season tournament a year ago after winning 48-28.
"The first time we played them, they beat us by 11, and we didn't feel like we played very well," Hansen said. "(Friday), we felt we were very prepared and MACCRAY came out with a win. When they're hitting on all cylinders, they do a good job."
Morgan Merritt 2 2-2 6, Riley Nordgaard 5 8-9 20, Ricki Kallhoff 7 0-0 14, Kelsey Goplen 1 0-0 2, Casie Baer 0 2-2 2, Moriah Hoffman 0 2-2 2, Totals 15 14-15 46. Three-pointers 2 (Nordgaard 2) Rebounds 28 (Nordgaard 11, Kallhoff 9) Assist 8 (Nordgaard 3) Steals 16 (Baer 7) Blocks 4 (Kallhoff 4) Turnovers 16 Total Fouls 22.
Kendra Kienholz 0 1-2 1, Paige Ammerman 1 2-4 4, Paige Schwitters 1 6-8 8, Teagan Molden 6 6-8 21, Hailey Goeman 4 5-6 15, Abbey Thissen 3 1-2 7, Totals 15 21-30 56. Three-pointers 5 (Molden 3, Goeman 2) Rebounds 39 (Thissen 14, Molden 11) Assists 10 ( Molden 4) Steals 11 (Molden 5) Blocks 6 (Molden 5) Turnovers 14 Total Fouls 13.
Halftime Score: MACCRAY 26, Canby 25.
Both squads rely heavily on their senior leadership this year. Canby has six seniors, while the Wolverines have seven, including 6-foot-1 center Abbey Thissen, whose return to the court was questionable after she injured her knee during the Camden Conference Championship against Minneota less than a week ago.
"Abbey's a big part of their team, and you need everybody on the court," Hansen said. "Molden does a good job shooting from outside and Thissen, when she's able to get the ball inside, she scores a lot of points from there. You need everyone healthy to be successful, and they played a very good game tonight."
MACCRAY jumped up to a 4-0 lead to start the game before sophomore Ricki Kallhoff put two points on the board for Canby at the 14:54 mark. With 12:28 remaining, a Kallhoff steal and Nordgaard layup gave the Lancers a 7-6 lead. Nordgaard posted a double-double in the contest, contributing 20 points and 11 boards in addition to three assists and two steals.
"Riley Nordgaard has changed basketball forever in Canby," Hansen said. "Every little girl that plays wants to be Riley Nordgaard. She has set the bar very high and we probably will never see another Riley Nordgaard come through our doors. We were just privileged as coaches to have that opportunity and as players to have her in our program."
The Wolverines took back the lead when Thissen scored on a rebound putback. After sophomore Morgan Merritt added a 6-foot baseline jumper to give Canby a one-point edge, senior Hailey Goeman converted two straight three-point plays to push MACCRAY's advantage to 14-9. The Wolverines managed to hold onto a slight lead through halftime.
Kallhoff returned the favor, connecting on two field goals to cut the Lancer deficit back to one-point with 8:39 left in the first half. Kallhoff finished the night with 14 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Senior Casie Baer added seven steals and two points.
In the final 6 minutes, Molden and Goeman each drilled a basket from behind the arc, while Paige Schwitters went 4-for-4 to help give MACCRAY a 26-25 halftime edge.
Molden came out firing in the second half, draining a three-pointer from the right wing to get the Wolverines started. Three minutes later, Goeman also hit a triple, giving MACCRAY a 34-28 advantage.
But Canby was relentless, rallying to take a 38-37 lead with 10:15 remaining when Nordgaard hit a pair of free throws. The Lancers were stellar from the charity stripe, hitting 14 of 15 free throws in the game.
MACCRAY took the lead for good when Molden connected on a baseline drive to the basket, followed by a trei from the left baseline, giving the Wolverines a 42-38 lead. With the win, MACCRAY advances to the subsection finals Monday against Minneota.
For seniors like Nordgaard, the loss is bittersweet.
"Our seniors are awesome," she said. "Hopefully, we'll be missed next year. No, really, we like to have fun. We get down to business, but we like to goof around. We're good friends."
Canby ends the 2011-12 season with a 19-7 record, something Hansen said the seniors should be proud of.
"Once you're done with your high school career, you will walk away and you will have memories and things that you have left for other people in the program," he said. This group of girls has done everything we've asked them to and when tournament time comes about, someone has to go home. Tonight was our night."