Prep girls basketball: Rails find open player, berth in 7AA semifinals
The Rails held Duluth Marshall’s high-powered offense in check to advance in the Section 7AA tournament.
HERMANTOWN — Proctor’s Payton Rodberg scored 27 in the Rails 62-48 win over Duluth Marshall in the Section 7AA quarterfinal Saturday in Hermantown, but the most important play might have been a pass.
While double-teamed, Rodberg found Sophie Morin-Swanson cutting to the basket for an easy layup early in the second half.
“I had my back to the basket and I could see at the corner that the backside was open,” Rodberg said. “I saw her coming and I just whipped it down there. That was a big part of it, if they’re going to double-team me, then we’re going to have that backside open.”
After nearly a week of grinding tape on the Hilltoppers, Proctor coach Matt Solberg said it was a good example of Rodberg and Morin-Swanson implementing the Rails’ offensive gameplan. The time also helped Proctor frustrate Marshall’s offense as well.
“They run their stuff well, but they have some tells in how they line up,” Solberg said. “When a kid’s in a certain spot, we know exactly what play is coming. We were able to jump a couple of their skip passes where they reversed the ball knowing it was coming.”
Rodberg and junior Hope Carlson were able to use that for several steals that turned into fast-break layups in the first half and lift the Rails to a 32-22 lead heading to the locker room.
Carlson also spent much of the game defending Hilltopper freshman and leading scorer Regan Juenemann. Juenemann finished the game with a team-high 20 points, but Carlson made her work for the points she got.
“Hope’s been guarding our opponents’ best player all season and she did that today on Juenemann,” Solberg said. “(Carlson) did a nice job for the most part containing her and not allowing open shots.”
Proctor extended its lead to 17 in the opening moments of the second half after Gabby Jauhola nailed a 3-pointer, one of only two the Rails would hit in the game.
Marshall made a run late in the second half, making the score 55-46 after Jeunemann hit her fifth from long range in the game.
Rodberg answered with a layup and foul on the next trip down the floor. Even though she missed the free throw, the score stopped the Hilltoppers’ momentum. Duluth Marshall only hit one more field goal in the game.
“We just didn’t hit shots early,” Marshall coach C.J. Osuchukwu said. “We got good looks, but we just missed shots and had some unnecessary turnovers. We have a young team and their nerves were high. If we played the way we played in the last five minute the whole game, the outcome would have been different, but give Proctor credit, they did what they had to do defensively. They slowed us down.”
Proctor will face either Esko or Virginia in the Section 7AA semifinal Wednesday in Hermantown. The Eskomos and Blue Devils were scheduled to play Saturday afternoon, but that game and the fourth quarterfinal between Pierz and Crosby-Ironton was postponed to Monday due to weather.