MARSHALL - Down 22 points with less than eight minutes left in the game, the fifth-ranked (Class A) Minneota girls' basketball team was just looking to end an ugly performance with some sort of positive momentum against No. 2 Goodhue while on its way to what seemed like it would assuredly be the Vikings' first lost of the season.
With the way the first three-fourths of the game had gone, nobody in the R/A Facility could have forecasted what was to come during the final seven minutes of Friday's game in the Borch's Sporting Goods Holiday Classic.
Creating havoc with their full-court pressure and finally getting some shots to go on offense, the Vikings mounted an incredible 21-1 run, but fell 53-51 as an off-balance perimeter shot from Shelby Corbin was off the mark at the buzzer.
Photo by Matt Dahlseid
Minneota’s Taylor Reiss, center, gets ready to go up for a shot between Goodhue’s Emilee Roschen, right, and Meridith Watson during Friday’s game in the Borch’s Sporting Goods Holiday Classic at the R/A Facility at Southwest Minnesota State University.
It was a brutal game for Minneota head coach Chad Johnston to watch for the majority of the contest, as his team struggled to execute any part of its game plan against last year's Class A runner-up at the state tournament. The first half included a stretch of over eight minutes where the Vikings, who are third in Class A in scoring at 69.1 points per game, failed to score a single point as they fell behind 25-6 with under five minutes left in the half.
Johnston knew his team was better than what it had shown, and down the stretch, the Vikings finally proved it.
"We were talking about playing for pride and the next thing you know we're talking about fouling and try to get a last shot to try to tie it at the end," said Johnston, whose team falls to 9-1 overall. "We got to the end of the game and didn't want to give up so we had to try something. The girls' intensity started to pick up a bit when we went into the press and the other team started to play not to lose and I was very happy with how we played the last seven minutes."
Mikayla Tipcke 5 1-2 15, Emilee Roschen 4 0-0 11, Mikayla Miller 7 6-8 21, Kali Ryan 1 0-0 2, Meridith Watson 2 0-1 4. Totals 19 7-11 53. 3-pointers 8 (Tipcke 4, Roschen 3) Total Fouls 14.
Molly Hennen 4 5-5 13, Shelby Corbin 1 4-4 6, Emily Stienessen 3 0-0 8, Taylor Reiss 10 3-6 23, Kelsey Maeyaert 0 1-2 1. Totals 18 13-17 51. 3-pointers 2 (Stienessen 2) Rebounds 27 (Reiss 10) Assists 8 (Hennen 3) Steals 10 (Corbin 4) Turnovers 17 Total Fouls 13.
Halftime Score: Goodhue 33, Minneota 20.
Sophomore center Taylor Reiss scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as she fought to get Minneota back in the game. Molly Hennen added 13 points for the Vikings after sitting out much of the first half with foul trouble.
Hennen was put on Goodhue's top player, junior guard Mikayla Miller, and picked up two fouls within the first few minutes of the game. Miller got her team off to a fast start and finished the game with 21 points. Wildcat teammates Emilee Roschen and Mikayla Tipcke also found their shooting touch early and were drilling shots from long range as Goodhue piled it on against Minneota.
Roschen knocked down three 3-pointers within a stretch of five minutes, and Tipcke followed shortly after with two 3s of her own as Goodhue went up 25-6 with 5:25 to play in the first half. Tipcke finished with four 3s and 15 points, while Roschen scored 11 points.
"Things went well and they just kept going well," said Goodhue head coach Josh Wieme, whose team's only loss came to Class AAA's fifth-ranked team, Red Wing. "We shot the ball well and when you hit some shots it tends to spark you a little bit, and it sparked us on defense. We were just flying around the court and it was great."
Hennen came back in late in the half and scored seven points in the final five minutes, and a layup by Reiss with two seconds left cut the Wildcats' lead to 33-20 going into the locker room.
But like the first half, the second half started poorly for the Vikings. Miller, a physical guard who plays bigger than her 5-7 frame, had two layups and converted on a three-point play within the first two minutes of the half and helped Goodhue off to a 10-2 run. The Wildcats pounded Minneota on the offensive boards and pushed its lead to 50-28 after a pair of free throws by Tipcke with 9:37 left in the game.
Minneota guard Emily Stienessen provided a spark for the Vikings a couple minutes later, hitting a 3-pointer from the top of the key and later scoring on a baseline drive to cut the lead to 15 with just under six minutes left to play. She hit another 3 to cut the lead to 10 with 3:32 left, providing a manageable deficit in the minds of the Vikings as the nerves began to set in for Goodhue.
Goodhue struggled handling Minneota's pressure and coughed up the ball multiple times down the stretch. Hennen had a steal and a layup to cut the lead to 52-46, then got another steal the next possession and Reiss ended up going to the foul line to cut the lead to five.
"That's the first time we've seen really any pressure, let alone good pressure," Wieme said. "You can say in practice time and time again, 'Hey, we've got to run our press break.' Now I think it will carry a little more meaning when we say that. We did not run it very well and we lost our composure, but it was great to actually see that and go against that. It kind of knocked us down a peg and it didn't cost us, fortunately."
Goodhue turned the ball over out of a timeout when a player tripped going to try to receive the inbounds pass and Reiss scored inside off an assist from Hennen with a minute left to cut the lead to 52-51. Minneota was forced to foul and Tipcke split a pair of free throws with 15.5 seconds left.
Johnston called a timeout with 6.1 seconds left to draw up a play, but it turned out to be a broken play and Corbin threw up a wild shot from the left wing just before the buzzer.
Minneota's closest game prior to Friday's loss was a 17-point win over Southwest Minnesota Christian. Johnston said facing a tough challenge against Goodhue will only make his team better.
"We need these games. We haven't had any of these and I told the girls even before the game, 'Goodhue is a better-tested team.' I think, top to bottom, their schedule is tougher than ours right now and that's no hack on anyone in our area. I just think that as a whole, our area is down a little bit this year and we haven't been tested like that yet. We didn't handle it well early. We handled it well at the end and made it a game."