Waseca fends off Fairmont in 2AA; Springfield downs Jaguars in 2A
MANKATO — Friday night’s initial Section 2AA, South Sub-Section girls basketball semifinal pitted a team seeking to return to state contention against a vastly-improved defensive-oriented youthful roster.
Waseca’s 5-foot-11 senior tandem of Rachel Breck and Hannah Potter combined for 25 points to offset Fairmont junior guard Faith Olson’s 15-point performance behind 5-for-8 3-point shooting in a low-scoring threepeat between Big South Conference rivals.
Breck delivered a game-best double-double effort of 17 points and 14 rebounds to complement a co-game-high five steals, while Potter supplied eight points and a game-best four assists to the No. 1-seeded Bluejays’ 43-30 victory over the upset-minded No. 4-seeded Cardinals at Mankato East High School’s hardwood court.
Waseca (22-6) advances to face No. 3-seeded Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial (22-5) for the South Sub-Section crown at 8 p.m. Monday night at the Taylor Center on the Minnesota State University campus in Mankato. The Knights upended the No. 2-seeded Medford Tigers (22-5), 62-58, in Friday night’s Game 2 at East High School.
“You never want your season to end, but now we know what we need to work on for next year,” said Fairmont head coach Sara Junkermeier, whose lineup closed out the campaign with a 15-11 record. “We (coaching staff) will have every single player back next season and I look forward for another opportunity to work with these girls.”
With senior point guard Gus Boyer — who will play basketball for the University of Minnesota Duluth next season — wearing a knee brace due to a torn ACL and only able to cheer on her teammates, Breck and Potter combined for 15 of Waseca’s 17 first-half points en route to a narrow five-point lead over Fairmont at intermission.
Boyer, Breck and Potter played integral roles as freshmen in Waseca qualifying for the 2017 Class AAA state girls basketball tournament.
“Obviously, we miss Gus on the floor, but everybody has contributed in trying to fill the void as well as we can,” said Bluejays head coach Joan Conway.
Sophomore guard Emma Gudahl’s 3-pointer tested the Boyer-less Bluejays during the early stages of Friday night’s playoff clash, inching the Cardinals within 6-5. Breck countered with a putback for Waseca before sophomore post player Cadence Becker took an Olson entry pass and weaved along the baseline for a leaner to keep Fairmont’s differential at just one.
Breck, however, muscled her way to two low-post baskets before Waseca freshman 6-footer Kloe Wadd threaded a pass to a cutting Potter to double the gap to 14-7 with 3:36 remaining in the first half.
Becker’s baseline leaner and Olson’s first of five trifectas eventually drew the Cardinals within 15-12 with 1:26 to go before intermission.
Gudahl, who finished with seven points, delivered the first four of Fairmont’s second-half points before Olson swooshed four consecutive 3-pointers to account for 12 of the Cardinals’ final 14 points.
“Faith was locked on target during the second half, but we just weren’t physical enough tonight,” said Junkermeier, whose team did not attempt a free throw Friday night after going 22 of 32 at the line in Monday’s playoff win over Maple River. “Give Waseca credit for keeping us from working the ball inside the paint, and that kept us from getting to the free throw line.
“At the other end, Breck’s length and strength in the low post proved too difficult to defend. I was very proud that our defense worked hard and held them to 43 points,” added Junkermeier, whose lineup allowed 61 and 66 points during Fairmont’s two regular-season losses to Waseca.
Breck poured in 10 of the Bluejays’ 26 second-half points and pocketed nine of their 11 boards during the final 18 minutes, while Wadd delivered eight points off the bench.
Becker collected six points and six rebounds for the Cardinals, while Bryn Miller grabbed five boards.
Miller 0-1 0-0 0, Allen 0-3 0-0 0, Becker 3-6 0-0 6, Totzke 1-7 0-0 2, Olson 5-8 0-0 15, Quiring 0-0 0-0 0, Schultz 0-4 0-0 0, Gudahl 3-6 0-0 7, Mosloski 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-35 0-0 30.
Breck 7-10 3-7 17, Potter 3-7 0-0 8, Rodriguez 1-3 0-0 3, Hiller 0-5 0-0 0, Draeger 2-9 3-7 7, Wadd 4-7 0-2 8. Totals 17-41 6-16 43.
3-pointers: Fairmont 6-18 (Olson 5-8, Gudahl 1-2, Totzke 0-6, Allen 0-2); Waseca 3-14 (Potter 2-6, Rodriguez 1-2, Hiller 0-3, Draeger 0-3). Fouled out: None. Rebounds: Waseca 25 (Breck 14); Fairmont 24 (Becker 6, Miller 5). Assists: Waseca 9 (Potter 4); Fairmont 7. Steals: Waseca 13 (Breck and Draeger 5 each); Fairmont 5.
Section 2A Playoffs
Springfield 62, Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman/Martin Luther 49 — Sydney Hauger poured in a game-best 26 points to help the No. 3-seeded Tigers claw the No. 6-seeded Jaguars by 13 during Section 2A, South Sub-Section semifinal action Friday night in Lake Crystal.
Springfield (22-5) advances to face No. 1-seeded Waterville-Elysian-Morristown for the South Sub-Section championship at 7:45 p.m. Monday night at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter. WEM gained the next round on the strength of a 72-55 victory over No. 4-seeded Mountain Lake Area/Comfrey.
GHEC/Truman/Martin Luther ended its season with a 12-16 record.
Eden Studer produced a double-double performance of 10 points and 10 rebounds to complement four steals to top the Jaguars’ postseason effort.
Jayme Balcom netted 10 points and grabbed six boards for the Jaguars, while Michaelah Petrowiak scored nine points.
Lizzie Oothoudt and Katelyn Diegnau each chipped in five points for the Jaguars, who made 16 of 42 shots from 2-point range, 2 of 13 behind the 3-point arc and 11 of 20 at the free throw line.
Maddy Digmann supplied 10 points for Springfield, while teammate Courtney Wendt contributed nine points.
The Tigers built a 32-24 halftime lead before outscoring the Jaguars by a 30-25 margin in the final 18 minutes of regulation.