PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL / CLASS A QUARTERFINALS / GOODHUE 50, MIB 48
MINNEAPOLIS - After Allie Negen's 3-pointer with 17 seconds remaining ignited Mountain Iron-Buhl's crowd into a frenzy, the Rangers got the ball back not once but twice with opportunities to take the lead Thursday in their Class A girls basketball state quarterfinal with Goodhue.
Rather than sit back, Goodhue's defense was ultra aggressive in the closing seconds as the Wildcats had fouls to give.
The strategy paid off as MIB couldn't even get a decent shot off as Goodhue held on for a 50-48 victory at Maturi Pavilion. Negen's last-gasp 3-point heave from about 25 feet at the buzzer looked more like a shot put, coming up well short under heavy pressure from Wildcats senior Kate Opsahl.
"We could afford to be aggressive," Goodhue coach Josh Wieme said. "We were not even close to being in the bonus, but you don't want to foul them when they're shooting, either. That 3 was a little (too close for comfort) ... but it was a good no call there. Kate was guarding her, and she was going to do the right thing."
Second-seeded Goodhue (25-6) advances to play third-seeded Menahga (30-1) in the Class A semifinals at 2 p.m. today at Williams Arena.
Unseeded MIB (25-6) plays unseeded BOLD (22-6) in the consolation semifinals at noon at Concordia-St. Paul.
"MIB is such a tough out," Wieme said laughing in a way that sounded more like relief. "We didn't feel rewarded being the No. 2 seed. It just shows how deep the field is this year."
Lexie Lodermeier, Goodhue's only other senior, led a balanced effort with 11 points for the Wildcats. Joslyn Carlson and Torrie Rehder had nine points apiece and Opsahl chipped in six points, six rebounds and three steals.
Negen, one of four senior starters who have been part of six straight state tournaments for MIB, had 15 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals to lead the Rangers, while Mattison Bennett added 11 points and five rebounds.
Goodhue, which defeated the Rangers 53-43 during the regular season, also beat them in the 2017 state title game.
"That was heartbreaker," Negen recalled.
This time, Goodhue led 28-19 at the half as MIB shot only 29.6 percent while turning the ball over eight times. The Wildcats were doing to MIB what the Rangers like to do to teams: full-court pressure them into mistakes. MIB didn't make enough shots (eight) in the first half to effectively set up their press.
"You have to score to get the tempo right, and we just didn't do that," MIB coach Jeff Buffetta said. "You have to attack the middle (to beat the press), but we weren't in attack mode in the first half. We were too passive."
But even with standouts Macy Savela fouling out with 5:10 remaining and Madisen Overbye twisting an ankle, the Rangers fought back.
"We've got some young kids who like to play," Buffetta said. "We suit them up for a reason."
Goodhue led by seven points with less than five minutes remaining before MIB whittled it down with a chance to win as Goodhue chucked a 3-pointer in the final minute instead of working the clock.
Goodhue won state titles in 2016 and '17, but other than current seniors Opsahl and Lodermeier, bench players in 2017, this was a new experience for the Wildcats.
"Goodhue has been here, but these kids have not, and we didn't handle the end of the game very well," Wieme said. "MIB is experienced. When they got down, they made their run because they knew they were capable of doing it and didn't panic, while our youth and inexperience showed."
But the Wildcats, who were 16 of 26 from the line compared to 3 of 6 for MIB, rose to the occasion on defense, thanks to an attitude of not being afraid to foul.
"Was I nervous?" Wieme said. "No, but I don't play. Our kids held a little bit."
For MIB, playing in its ninth straight state tournament but yet to capture a state title, the dreams and goals go beyond the quarterfinals. As the Rangers streamed out the locker room, some cried as they melted into the waiting arms of their loved ones waiting patiently outside.
The Rangers didn't win, but they sure gave it a fight.
"I knew that any of my teammates could have hit that shot," Negen said. "I know that in the end I hit that 3, but I would trust in every one of them to do the same. I've got some memories that I'll never let go."
Mtn. Iron-Buhl 19-29-48
Mountain Iron-Buhl - Macy Savela 7, Allie Negen 15, Madisen Overbye 5, Mia Ganyo 4, Mattison Bennett 11, Jacie Kvas 1, Brooke Niska 5. Totals 20 3-6 48.
3-point goals - Savela, Negen 2, Overbye, Niska.
Goodhue - Kate Opsahl 6, Torrie Rehder 9, Arianna Thomforde 7, Joslyn Carlson 9, Lexie Lodermeier 11, Elissa Lodermeier 3, Hanna Gadient 5. Totals 17 16-26 50.
3-point goals - None.
Hibbing 63, Fergus Falls 58
Abby McDonald scored 25 points and hit four 3-pointers as the Bluejackets won the consolation semifinal at Concordia-St. Paul.
Hibbing (28-3) trailed 29-22 at halftime before McDonald poured in 15 in the second half to send the Bluejackets to Friday's fifth-place game at Concordia.
Haley Hawkinson added 11 points, making 6 of 8 free throws.
Ellie Colbeck led Fergus Falls (23-6) with 22 points.
Proctor 41, Redwood Valley 38
The Rails built an 11-point halftime lead and then held on for the consolation semifinal victory at Concordia-St. Paul.
Proctor (25-7) will face either Holy Family Catholic or St. Peter in today’s 2 p.m. fifth-place game at Concordia.
Sam Pogatchnik led the Rails with 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Morgan Nylund chipped in with 10 points.
Haley Garman paced Redwood Valley (19-10) with 14 points and Aubree Hicks came off the bench to score a dozen.