Eagles edge Jaguars for 5th place at state
Johanson clears 1,000-point mark; Pytleski eclipses 1,000-carom level
ST. PAUL — For a second consecutive day in the Class A girls basketball state consolation bracket, a team pulled off a comeback win with a 40-plus-point second half. On Saturday, it was Southwest Minnesota Christian.
The Eagles scored 46 second-half points to beat the Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman/Martin Luther Jaguars, 79-67, during the consolation championship at the Gangelhoff Center on the campus of Concordia University.
“We got off to a nice start. They countered, obviously,” Jaguars head coach Rick Uttech said.
Senior guard Hannah Johanson ignited the Jaguars to an early 5-0 score. Johanson knocked down a 3-pointer for her 1,001st career point before converting a steal into two more points in the first 30 seconds of the game.
“It’s a great feeling. It’s something that I’ve wanted since I was in the third grade and I finally got it in the last game, which was kind of terrifying,” Johanson said about reaching the milestone.
Brooklyn DeKam opened the Eagles’ scoring with a 3-pointer. Chatel Groen later tied the game at 9-all with back-to-back steals for layups, and DeKam used Emily Nerem’s steal to break the tie at the 13:43 mark of the opening half.
The teams tied three more times before Jaguars senior guard Alexis Brummond notched two free throws for a 19-17 advantage. Eagles sophomore forward Hannah Nerem also went to the line, but only made one basket for a one-point Jaguar lead.
Johanson then cut to the basket and used two assists from senior forward Hanna Geistfeld to get the Jaguars up, 25-20.
“Hannah (Johanson) definitely came out to play again and shot well,” Uttech said. “Hannah just had a really nice game on a bad ankle. She really hurt it again yesterday.”
The Jaguars maintained the lead going up by as many as 10 in the final seconds of the half.
Groen used an assist from senior guard Leah Buys to get a layup just before the end of the half to narrow the Eagles’ deficit, 41-33.
The first half also featured Jaguars senior center Kenlie Pytleski grabbing her 1,000th career rebound. Much like Johanson with points, Pytleski was only two rebounds shy of the feat entering the game and finished with seven.
“It was even cooler that I got to get it with my best friend (Johanson) who I’ve played with since third grade,” Pytleski said. “We were both two away, so we were twins. It was awesome.”
But the Eagles came out in the second half, erasing the deficit. The team started by forcing two consecutive Jaguars turnovers. DeKam converted one of her three steals into an ‘and-1’ situation, and Emily Nerem’s steal-and-basket combination brought the Eagles within three.
Jaguars junior guard Macy Quinn hit two free throws to increase the lead by five, but Groen and Buys combined for as many points to knot the contest at 43. With three more ties, nine total in the game, freshman guard Jazlynn Prinz used a feed from Emily Nerem to nab the lead.
With 10:39 to go in the contest, Groen hit two foul shots before Olivia Veldkamp connected with Hannah Nerem for a basket and 56-51 score.
The Eagles created more separation via a 6-0 run, starting with Prinz making good on a traditional 3-point play. DeKam later hit both of her shots at the charity stripe with 6:56 to go. Groen added a free throw for a 64-57 lead.
Geistfeld passed into the paint to Pytleski for a much-needed layup to end the Eagles from furthering the run.
The Eagles recorded nine of their final 12 points at the line, winning the consolation championship, 79-67.
“Second half, we did some things well, we struggled on some other things,” Uttech said. We looked a little tired. It’s a brutal tournament for Class A. … We missed a lot of shots that we would normally make.”
DeKam and Groen each tallied 23 points for the Eagles. Groen added seven steals, while Emily Nerem notched 11 points, eight boards and five assists. Hannah Nerem neared a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.
Johanson finished with a career-high and game-best 25 points on 11-for-17 shooting with five assists and three steals.
“We all knew it was the last game, so it’s do or die,” Johanson said.
Geistfeld scored 20 points with five assists and eight rebounds, Pytleski notched eight points, Brummond provided seven points and Renae Wallace recorded five boards. With the season wrapped up the Jaguars lose the four, along with Johanson and Allyson Cegelske, to graduation.
“(They provide) good leadership and not just on the court, but off the court. They’re good examples for these younger kids,” Uttech said about the senior class.
DeKam 5-13 13-14 23, Groen 5-9 13-16 23, E. Nerem 4-14 3-4 11, H. Nerem 4-9 1-2 9, Prins 3-7 1-3 7, Buys 2-4 0-0 6, Van Hulzen 0-1 0-0 0, Veldkamp 0-0 0-0 0. Schaap 0-0 0-0 0, Vis 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-57 30-39 79.
Johanson 11-17 1-1 25, Geistfeld 8-12 4-7 20, Pytleski 4-10 0-0 8, Brummond 1-4 5-6 7, Quinn 1-6 5-5 7, Wallace 0-1 0-0 0, Cegelske 0-1 0-0 0, Becker 0-1 0-0 0, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Steinhaus 0-0 0-0 0, Stauter 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-52 15-19 67.
3-pointers: SMC 3-12 (Buys 2-2, DeKam 1-6, E. Nerem 0-2, Prins 0-2); GHECTML 2-9 (Johanson 2-4, Becker 0-1, Brummond 0-2). Fouled out: Brummond. Rebounds: SMC 35 (H. Nerem 10, E. Nerem 8); GHECTML 32 (Geistfeld 8, Pytleski 7). Assists: GHECTML 19 (Johanson and Geistfeld, 5 each); SMC 12 (E. Nerem 5). Steals: SMC 16 (Groen 7); GHECTML 8 (Quinn and Johanson 3 each).