Girls are runners up in state basketball tournament
by Wilson KozelTalon staff writer
The Minnehaha girls varsity basketball team came up short this year in their attempt to repeat as state champions, losing in the championship game 68-61 to the Braham Bombers. The Redhawks beat the Bombers last year 64-46 to win their first state title in any Minnehaha sport since girls soccer in 1998. This was the fourth straight year the team made it to the state tournament, twice in class 3A and the past two years in class 2A.
In the first round of the tournament the Redhawks was a thriller. They were ahead 44-27 midway through the second half, when Jackson County Central Huskies came back into the game, capitalizing on a slew of Redhawk turnovers. With roughly 30 seconds left in the game, senior Leslie Handzus hit a three-pointer to put the Huskies up by one, 59-58. With 15 seconds left, senior Katelyn Adams rebounded junior Gabbi Stienstra’s missed shot and put in the game winning basket, to give the Redhawks a 60-59 win.
The semifinals started out rough for the Redhawks, giving up seven turnovers and going into the locker room at halftime, down 26-23 to the Sauk Center Mainstreeters. Nine minutes into the second half the Redhawks took their first lead of the game with a Stienstra steal and lay up, putting the Redhawks up 35-34. The Mainstreeters tied the game with 5:37 remaining, but a quick three-pointer from Stienstra gave the Redhawks a 42-39 lead. A lead that would not be relinquished as the Redhawks went on to win 50-43, leading them to face Braham in a rematch of last year’s title game.
The first half of the state final game was close. Braham eventually had an eight point lead near the end of the half, but sophomore Nicole Nipper cut it to a five point lead with a three-pointer and junior Andrea Scharf made it a four point lead going to halftime with a free throw. Senior Jana Halstensgard injured her knee with 10 minutes left in the half and was unable to continue playing.
The Bombers came out strong in the second half, soon leading by 13. Several times the Redhawks cut the lead to 5, but the Bombers kept them at arms length. Sarina Baker’s jump shot cut the lead to four with 2:12 remaining, but that was the closest the Redhawks would get.
In the end, Braham sophomore Rebekah Dahlman proved to be too much, scoring 23 points and going 17-18 from the free throw line, 15-16 in the second half. The Bombers proved that they would not be denied two years in a row.