LAKE CRYSTAL - Freshman post player Rachel Shumski scored the first 10 of Granada-Huntley-East Chain's points in her first varsity playoff start, and went on to light up the scoreboard for a game-high 23 points to carry the No. 2-seeded Mustangs to a 48-41 Section 2A, South Sub-Section semifinal basketball victory over the No. 3-seeded Springfield Tigers on Friday night in Lake Crystal.
The Mustangs (15-6) advance to face No. 1-seeded Mankato Loyola (23-2) in the South Sub-Section final at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Gustavus Aldophus College in St. Peter.
The Crusaders advanced to the final after defeating No. 5-seeded Mountain Lake Area, 39-25, on Friday in Lake Crystal.
DRIVING — Granada-Huntley-East Chain’s Rachel Shumski (right) drives around Springfield’s Samantha Groebner during Section 2A, South Sub-Section semifinal basketball action Friday night in Lake Crystal. Photo Courtesy of Sue Petrowiak
The Tigers finished the season with a 13-10 record.
The Tigers' Kasey Kretsch swished a 3 from the top of the key with 3 minutes left in the game to cut into the Mustangs' late lead.
Neither team was able to generate any points for the next 2:40, trading scoring opportunites.
Rachael Sauck was finally able to break the short scoring drought for the Mustangs, when she was fouled and sent to the free throw line for a one-and-one situation.
"Rachael stayed late after practice last night to work on free throws," said Granada-Huntley-East Chain head coach Rick Uttech. "I guess it was a good thing she did, because the ones she made at the end tonight were big for us to hold on."
Sauck sank the first of the two free throws, but Shumski collected the rebound on the second and flipped the ball in for a layup to make it 45-39 with 40 seconds remaining on the clock.
Samantha Groebner responded to Shumski's layup with a jumper at the free throw line for the Tigers on the ensuing possession, cutting the lead again, to 45-41 with 30.9 seconds left.
Sauck was fouled bringing up the ball and sent to the free throw line for another one-and-one situation and made one of two.
Shumski then put the cap on the victory for the Mustangs by laying in the final basket of the game with less than 10 seconds to play.
"She (Shumski) was great tonight. She really carried us in the beginning of the game, kept us in it until everyone else got in rhythm," Uttech said of Shumski's 11-for-15 shooting effort.
Springfield started the game on fire offensively, with Kretsch and Jordan Salonek sinking a pair of 3s to help build a 12-4 early lead.
"I told the girls before the game that we were going to have to weather a couple storms. We knew that they were a good shooting team and I thought we handled their run in the first half pretty well," said Uttech.
Shumski was able to keep the Mustangs within striking distance, scoring 10 of her lineup's first 14 points on her way to 12 total first-half points.
Amanda Cegelske was the first to assist the freshman on the offensive end, scoring on back-to-back jumpers to cut into the Tigers' lead to make it 17-14.
Anna Balcom joined the scoring train with 6:20 left in the opening half, twisting around a Tiger defender to the runner inside the lane to make it a one-point game at 17-16.
Cegelske's third basket of the first half, for six of her eight points in the game, was able to give the Mustangs their first lead at 18-17 with 3:10 remaining.
Meanwhile, Balcom and Cegelske each netted seven rebounds to help keep the Tigers off the glass, with Alex Stennes pulling down six boards for the Mustangs.
Megan Pierson came off the bench for the Tigers and tried to keep her team in the game, scoring eight points in the second half, along with grabbing a game-high nine rebounds.
Salonek also finished with eight points for the Tigers and grabbed seven rebounds, while Kretsch finished with a team-leading nine points.
Arnoldi 2-16 0-0 4, Groebner 3-9 0-0 6, Schwanke 2-5 0-0 4, Kretsch 3-8 1-1 9, Salonek 3-14 1-2 8, Milbrath 1-3 0-0 2, Roiger 0-1 0-0 0, Davis 0-2 0-0 0, Pierson 3-5 2-2 8. Totals: 17-63 4-6 41.
Sauck 1-9 2-5 5, Cegelske 4-7 0-1 8, Stennes 2-4 1-3 6, Balcom 2-8 0-0 4, Shumski 11-15 1-2 23, Becker 1-1 0-0 2, Jensen 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 21-45 4-11 48.
3-pointers: Springfield 3-18 (Arnoldi 0-8, Kretsch 2-4, Salonek 1-6); GHEC 2-4 (Sauck 1-3, Stennes 1-1). Rebounds: Springfield 36 (Pierson 9, Groebner and Kretsch 7 each); GHEC 28 (Cegelske and Balcom 7 each, Stennes 6). Fouled out: Kretsch (Springfield). Steals: GHEC 7 (Cegelske, Balcom and Shumski 2 each); Springfield 4.
Section 2AA, South
New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva 63, Blue Earth Area 28 - The Class AA, No. 2-ranked Panthers powered past the No. 4-seeded Bucs 63-28 in Section 2AA, South Sub-Section semifinal action at Mankato East on Friday night.
The No. 1-seeded Panthers (27-1) advance to face No. 3-seeded Hayfield (19-8) in the Section 2AA, South Sub-Section championship at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Taylor Center on the Minnesota State University, Mankato campus.
No individual statistics were reported.
Blue Earth Area finished its season with a 14-8 record.