Archive for ED Sports

PREP BOYS BASKETBALL: Watertown-Mayer pulls away from D-C with balanced second-half surge

WATERTOWN — When a key part of the rotation goes down, it’s not just the old saying “next man up” that matters. “It takes a village” is just as important a mantra, and the Royals boys basketball team proved it in a big way against conference opponent Dassel-Cokato Tuesday night, winning 62-39.

Starting point guard Wyatt McCabe has missed the last few games with injury and the absence has forced a bevy of Royals to step up in his place. That depth couldn’t reveal itself at a better time hitting the halfway point of the regular season. The scoring totals have been low and unbalanced across the lineup in recent games — that wasn’t the case against D-C as John Mueller, Albert Rundell and Mitchell Burns each finished in double figures.

Leading that charge of depth in the W-M rotation was Sawyer Ritter, who began the season as a starter and has come off the bench in the last handful of games as a spark plug of energy, while Albert Rundell jumped into the starting lineup and has thrived lately as well with and without McCabe.

McCabe’s injury — along with Cayden Stucchi missing the game Tuesday — forced coach Kent Janikula to make another lineup adjustment, and Ritter got the call once again to join the starters. His hounding on ball defense and activity off-ball, along with patient shot selection, have been key in Watertown-Mayer’s four wins in their last five games.

“I know my role. At the beginning of the season, we saw we might struggle to score a little bit. And for me as a player, I know my role isn’t really to score that often,” Ritter said. “I come in and I play scrappy defense. Bert [Rundell] came in for me in the starting lineup and he’s been doing a great job getting us points. I don’t really have much to complain about.”

“John Mueller didn’t score 30 — we had other guys step up, which is good. I think tonight we saw it as an opportunity to get some easier looks,” Janikula said.

A sloppy first half on both sides made for a 23-17 Royal lead at halftime. The Chargers’ uptempo, wreak-havoc style of play visibly shook W-M’s starters, forcing five turnovers in the first 10 possessions. The first eight minutes flew by with D-C leading just 6-4, making life tough for Watertown-Mayer and giving the Chargers a glimpse of what could happen when they’re working the gameplan to a T.

“We play really well in spurts. And when we do put together a whole game, we’re going to be very suprised at what the outcome looks like and what we can do,” D-C coach Tony Dehler said.

“We played into their hands a little bit with that. We got a little go-go-go too early and it hurt us in some ways,” Janikula said. “We got good shots in the first half, we just didn’t make any. That’s been a problem for us.”

As the half went on, the Royals found a better rhythm and hit a smooth section of the road in the second frame, knocking down multiple three-pointers, which opened up the entire offensive side of the floor. Will Hensel, Sawyer Ritter, Rundell, Burns and Mueller all knocked down shots from deep.

“We don’t have a guy who can maybe knock down six threes, but we have a few guys that can knock down one or two,” Janikula said. “And what a big difference that makes.”

“I think our development offensively is increasing,” Ritter added. “After the first game [against Southwest Christian] was high-scoring, we thought we might be able to get in the swing of playing like that. Then we got into the Wright County schedule and we got hit with a brick wall.”

W-M used that hot three-point shooting along with multiple efforts on defense to extend the lead to 53-30, a 23-10 run over a nine-minute stretch in the second half fully putting the game out of reach. Ben Smock’s three-point shooting was a bright spot throughout as well as Collin Asplin knocking down two shots beyond the arc on his way to 10 points. The buckets just didn’t come at time the Chargers needed.

For Watertown-Mayer, the win moves them to 6-3 at the midway point of the season as the second round of Wright County West play begins Friday against a Glencoe-Silver Lake team that can score in bunches. Sluggish early starts won’t fly against Mitchell Jaskowiak and company.

“We’ve got a good challenge as Glencoe comes here. They beat us up last time,” Janikula said. “We have to put together a full game.”

Mueller led with 16 points, Rundell had 15 and Burns scored 10. Hensel added eight and Ritter six.

Dassel-Cokato falls to 1-9 and drops their eighth game in a row. Ben Smock scored 11, Asplin 10 points. They travel to Litchfield Friday, another team with a very contrasting style of play to what the Chargers run.

“Until we can sustain those good spurts, it’s hard for us to overcome those longer scoring droughts,” Dehler said. “When we do execute, a lot of good things happen. We got good shots, a lot of them just didn’t fall.”

For the complete story and more Herald Journal sports coverage, check out the Feb. 19 edition of the Herald Journal. Click here for subscription information. 

Follow Jared Martinson on Twitter: @JaredNHR

DCL wrestlers defeat GSL, Minnetonka; improve to 14-2

The Dassel-Cokato/Litchfield wrestling team continued to roll in recent action, winning twice on Thursday, Jan. 11 at Glencoe-Silver Lake HS.

DCL defeated Glencoe-Silver Lake/Lester Prairie 67-6, and Class AAA Minnetonka by a score of 54-13.

Against GSL, the team won 67-6. The two biggest highlights of the dual were at 132 pounds, where Hawken Juarez got his first varsity victory, and at 152, where two ranked wrestlers squared off.

Against Minnetonka, DCL handily dispatched the Class AAA Minnetonka Skippers 54-13.

The match featured two battles of ranked wrestlers.

At 195 pounds, DCL’s Beau Nelson (ranked #8 in Class AA) squared off against Minnetonka’s Quinn Sell (ranked #7AAA at 220).

At 152 pounds, the Skippers’ Gabe Schumacher (ranked #9 in Class AAA at 160 pounds) squared off against #7AA Eddie Simes.

Check out Friday’s Enterprise Dispatch for a full recap.

DCL’s dual record is now 14-2 on the 2021 season.

The team’s next action will be at home against New London-Spicer Thursday.

Lineup Setback

The DCL wrestling team recently learned they will be without 132-pound starter Devin Steinhaus for the rest of the season due to a medical issue. Steinhaus, a junior, was 8-3 before suffering the medical setback.

DCL grapplers go 3-0 against AAA schools, improve to 12-2

The Dassel-Cokato/Litchfield wrestling team improved their dual record to 12-2 on the 2021 season, dispatching three Class AAA teams in recent action.

DCL defeated Prior Lake 47-29 Saturday on the road, and defeated St. Francis 74-6 and Sartell/St. Stephen 58-13 Tuesday at Sartell.

The Thursday, Feb. 4 match against #7AA Watertown-Mayer was postponed until March 5.

DCL also traveled to Glencoe-Silver Lake Thursday for a triangular. Look for those results online at HJBlogs.com, or in next week’s Enterprise Dispatch.

This week, the team will host New London-Spicer Thursday at Litchfield.

DCL is now ranked #4 in Class AA, with eight of 14 wrestlers ranked in the top-10.

Check out Friday’s Enterprise Dispatch for a full recap.

PREP BASKETBALL: One-Month Rewind

It’s been just over a month since winter sports practice started up, six weeks later than usual. I’ve been able to see nine of the 12 area hoops teams so far and checked in with the others as the season has progressed. Today in the One-Month Rewind, we take a look at how all 12 are faring 30 days into the season.

 HLWW boys (3-3, 1-3 WCC West)

The Lakers started off strong with a tight win over rival Lester Prairie (the Bulldogs’ only loss) and a takedown of former Central Minnesota Conference foe Maple Lake.

Then the Wright County West buzzsaw hit hard and fast — not that HLWW didn’t battle, though. Losses to Litchfield and Rockford, both top-20 level teams in Class AA, came by a total of seven points. A tough size matchup against Annandale sent them into a three-game losing streak before handling Dassel-Cokato pretty easily Monday.

James Carr has his team’s priority on the defensive end as usual, which will need to set the tone in the next three games especially; road trips to Glencoe-Silver Lake and Litchfield sandwich a home game against Watertown-Mayer who is getting on track at the right time. Spencer Lade and Drew Burau in the frontcourt have been bright spots scoring in double figures along with wing sharpshooter Bennett Anderson. Lade is shooting 55 percent from the field and adding seven rebounds and three assists to his statline this season.

The Lakers will need some extra punch from the guard spots with Carson Woolhouse and Noah Bush to balance things out, and they have their work cut out for them with a tough slate coming — W-M and Litch would be monster wins for Section 5AA implications as well as conference bragging rights.

HLWW girls (1-4, 1-2 WCC West)

The HLWW girls picked up their first win Tuesday against conference foe D-C, a grind-it-out victory that took all the effort they could muster. Coach Ryan Petersen said the energy the team has brought to each game just didn’t translate to a win yet — that changed this week, knocking off the Chargers 51-46 behind another stellar 21-point performance from sophomore point guard Ivy Fasching. She’s shooting the lights out and averaging nearly 24 a game accounting for about half of the HLWW offense.

Signs of life from the rest of the roster showed up too: 6-foot junior center Carolyn Remer is proving to be a two-way paint presence and is the team’s second-leading scorer. Brooke Baumann does a little bit of everything and might be their best wing defender. Erin Horn scored a huge eight points against D-C grabbing a couple offensive rebounds.

The Lakers still have to face the top of the conference twice but with a win finally under their belts the spirits are high and they know there’s plenty to still improve on.

Lester Prairie girls (6-1, 6-1 MCAA)

The Bulldogs faced their first true conference test Monday on the road at Heritage, falling 70-53. That was also without leading scorer and area player of the year candidate Marissa Radtke who has missed the last few games with a bone bruise in her knee and is likely out another couple weeks. The rematch with Heritage at home happens Saturday afternoon, a game Lester Prairie needs to stay above the Eagles in the section standings.

Lester Prairie's Taylor Ebert has stepped up in the scoring column as of late. | Photo by Jared Martinson

Lester Prairie’s Taylor Ebert has stepped up in the scoring column as of late. | Photo by Jared Martinson

Taylor Ebert stepped up for 29 points in the loss to Heritage Monday; she seems very capable of handling the shot creation load sans Radtke, and Lizzy Anderson has been steady in the paint all season averaging 12 points per game as well. The rest of the rotation will need to adjust on the fly to being more primary features in the offense. Kara Lee and eighth-grader Addison Hoof are sparkplug type defenders that can make life miserable for opposing point guards. That could be an important part of how the Bulldogs create their offense — forcing a few more turnovers per game and getting out on the fast break.

The MCAA slate isn’t all that challenging past Heritage. But the big game circled on the schedule is a March 2 faceoff against the best team in Section 4A, Mayer Lutheran. If Radtke’s available by that time, expect a doozy.

Lester Prairie boys (6-1, 5-0 MCAA)

Having a similarly dominant season are the Lester Prairie boys, 6-1 on the season, the only blemish in the season opener to Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted. Two gritty wins over Spectrum and two more against Heritage highlight the Bulldogs’ record so far.

The two-headed monster of Jack Behning and Zach Jackson has reared its head in almost every game. Both players are averaging 20 points per game and the rest of the MCAA has little to counter them. Not only have the two most experienced Bulldogs been excellent, senior Jack Niesen and freshman Trever Schauer are averaging double figures and grabbing every rebound in sight. Schauer has been particularly active on defense, consistently grabbing two steals and two blocks a contest.

Though the program’s numbers are down this season, the Bulldogs seem pretty deep with playable guys. Donovan Harrison and Tanner Scheevel are reliable wings that use their craft and strength to make winning plays. Zach Zebell and Layne Teubert excel in their roles as defensive guard stopper and three-point specialist, respectively.

Two big games against a good Legacy Christian team appear on next week’s schedule along with Mayer Lutheran Feb. 15. Can Lester Prairie stay undefeated in the MCAA and get a big section win?

Dassel-Cokato boys (1-5, 0-3 WCC West)

It’s a new style of play and some new faces on the varsity roster for D-C this season. The adjustment period is ongoing but the flashes of everything falling into place are visible. The Chargers, led by head coach Tony Dehler in his first season, play a super uptempo style with a lot of pressing on defense. The outside shots haven’t been falling so it’s up to the defense to create turnovers and fast break points. Athlete Eli Gillman is a key cog in that strategy along with physical specimen Collin Asplin. In the win against Hope Academy, D-C forced 31 turnovers.

They’re going to have a chance in every game they play; two losses have come by a total of five points and the Chargers almost got back in the game against HLWW Monday despite being down 30 in the second half.

Four of their next five games are on the road, while all are against tough conference opponents like Rockford, Watertown-Mayer and Annandale. Gillman and Asplin usually are the leading scorers at around 10 points a game while Gaige Webb is a steady hand at point guard. They’ll need some extra punch from rotation players three through five to stay in these games.

Dassel-Cokato girls (0-6, 0-3 WCC West)

The Chargers girls squad has had trouble playing a consistent two halves most of the season, especially early on. Losses to Rocori and Litchfield were within striking distance for a half before things got out of hand.

Another struggle has been finding a go-to scorer when the offense is stalling out. There’s a recent development in that respect with junior guard Bailey Quern, who scored 18 in a close loss to HLWW Tuesday. and is the team’s leading bucket-getter. Her improvement as the season goes on could get her some attention as a senior.

Kezia Lee's defense and rebounding have been bright spots for Dassel-Cokato. | Photo by Jared Martinson

Kezia Lee’s defense and rebounding have been bright spots for Dassel-Cokato. | Photo by Jared Martinson

In terms of the game against HLWW, both teams were looking for their first win of the season. HLWW got up by 11 quickly but a nice run to end the half got D-C within 26-22. They added to that with eight straight to open the second half and were up 37-32 at one point as well. Closing out the game while having the lead hasn’t happened enough yet this season for the Chargers to capitalize. Now that they’ve been in that late-game situation (as well as in a close loss to Delano in January), my guess is they’ll snatch a couple wins from the teams right above them in the standings.

Senior Kezia Lee, a Winona State track and field commit, has ramped up her defensive effort as of late as well. Her length and speed bothers opposing wing players and she made some big deflections against HLWW. Amelia Travis is an undersized post player but she is tough and works hard to box out and defend bigger centers.

Delano boys (5-2, 1-2 WCC East)

A hot 4-0 start for the Tigers has quickly simmered with two losses in conference play — a not-quite-enough comeback against Jordan came up short and then a setback at Mound-Westonka Tuesday. But those first four games, everything seemed to be clicking — St. Croix Lutheran, Princeton and St. Thomas Academy are all very respectable teams in Class AAA, and Terry Techam’s squad handled the pressure with aplomb.

All Delano basketball roads cross at Trey Longstreet. The Northern State-committed senior is averaging 26 points a game, with a season-high 35 coming in the barn burner against Princeton; he needed 33 to reach the 1,000 milestone and that he did. Playing point guard, rim protector and earning a top defensive assignment are just a few of the roles he’s taken on with an otherwise entirely new varsity crew.

Let’s not coast past those new faces that have stepped up. Freshman guard Will Strandemo has lived all over the world and finds himself back at Delano to begin his high school basketball career, coming off the bench to score 11.4 points per game. His lefty elbow pullup jumper is automatic.

Delano senior Trey Longstreet has led the Tigers to a 5-2 start. | Photo by Jared Martinson

Delano senior Trey Longstreet has led the Tigers to a 5-2 start. | Photo by Jared Martinson

Senior forward Carter Tool is another trusted ballhandler; at 6-foot-6, he has vision to see what other guards can’t, and he pairs with Longstreet as two of the only players to not come out of the game every night. Carter posted a near triple-double of 11 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in a win over Waconia Friday.

Ty Weiman, Trent Techam and Colin Tolkkinen all play vital roles as defenders and open shot-makers too. The bummer of the season so far is junior center Levi Farniok being lost for the season with a torn ACL. Sophomore Jackson Stewart will have to continue his strong play on the glass in replacement.

Delano girls (2-5, 1-2 WCC East)

There’s a lot of promise to the Delano girls basketball team; they just need to get some games in their back pocket. Two losses to strong Wright County West teams in Annandale and Watertown-Mayer were followed by a grind-it-out victory over Dassel-Cokato, 45-41. The Tigers are 2-5 coming off a one-point win against Mound-Westonka. Like the Chargers of D-C, this young team seems to be learning how to capitalize in tight games. The next step is staying in the games that aren’t so tight.

Freshman pair Taylor Tool and Norah Danielson seem to be a foundation to build on as the team’s top two leading scorers. Tool is a post presence with some smooth footwork and passing ability, rare for a freshman. She can also step out and shoot the three.

Danielson is more of a ballhandler, taking some expected lumps with turnovers but also flashing some craft with her game. She has the team’s season-high for points in a game with 22 against Jordan. The tandem of these two young players gives coach Seth Potter really nice building blocks along with what he’s got in the upper classes, like Macki Deters, Maddie Elstad and Sidney Schmit on the wings. Louisa Stowman and Kendall Dreger lead the way on defense, racking up steals with their hand quickness and speed.

The Wright County East schedule does no favors any year. Delano has a couple wins in the bag now and can rally around that confidence to move up in the standings. The next three Tiger opponents all have winning records. How will they respond?

Mayer Lutheran girls (5-1, 5-0 MN River)

I haven’t had the gift of seeing them live yet, but Kris Gustin’s squad is once again dominating the Minnesota River slate. Just one of their five conference wins has been by less than 19 points. The three-headed offensive attack of Emma Lade (17.2 PPG), Morgan Chmielewski (15.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG) and Madeline Guetzkow (13.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG) is as fearsome as any in the area and the section. Julia Carns is a stellar paint presence averaging eight points and seven rebounds.

The Crusaders haven’t played a team in their section yet — that changes when United Christian comes to town Friday. They’ll also face Lester Prairie and Heritage Christian in March, the two other most likely contenders for the 4A crown. Heritage knocked them off in sections last season. Regardless, the buzzsaw that is the Crusader defense leading to offense is scary.

Mayer Lutheran also hits the road to play Minnehaha Academy in an exciting non-conference matchup late in the regular season.

Mayer Lutheran boys (7-0, 6-0 MN River)

The Crusaders now sit atop the Minnesota River standings after defeating Southwest Christian 80-76 Thursday night. The second round of league play begins against Norwood-Young America Tuesday. Only Tri-City United and Southwest Christian stayed within 10 points of Mayer Lutheran.

There are a lot of football players on this team, but they also play like basketball players on the court. Teigan Martin is a bona fide star in the paint but is skilled enough to step out and shoot it too. He’s putting up 24 points and seven rebounds per game to lead the offense that puts up 75 points a night. Sharpshooting Tyler Neitzel and point guard Ty Hoese are in double figures so far this year and were key in the win over Southwest Christian.

Remind yourself like I had to: this team is all juniors and one sophomore! Plenty of time left for the Crusaders to rise up the Class A ladder under new coach Keith Traska. He’s said how much he loves coaching the effort these guys show. It’s already paying off nearly halfway through the season.

Section rivals Lester Prairie and New Ulm Cathedral are still on the slate along with the rest of the Minnesota River. An undefeated record going into the section tournament isn’t out of the question.

Watertown-Mayer boys (3-2, 1-2 WCC West)

The Royals have had their share of frustrating moments and games so far. Two nice wins over Southwest Christian and Holy Family to start the year were quickly deflated by a blowout loss to Glencoe-Silver Lake and a too little, too late game at Rockford. It seems that the momentum has shifted back above the red with a trademark gritty win over Litchfield 42-31 Tuesday.

Litch is a top-15 or 20 team in Class AA, notorious for playing slow and physical. That’s the kind of game Watertown-Mayer wants to be in — and it worked. The Royals held the Dragons to 13 second-half points and pulled away.

It’ll be the more uptempo games that give them trouble unless the offense starts clicking a little faster. Coach Kent Janikula has said the pecking order of scoring and creating will need to play itself out so each player has a distinct role. Sophomore forward John Mueller is the team’s leader on offense at 18.8 points per game while classmates Albert Rundell and Wyatt McCabe average 8.8 and 8.4 respectively. Rundell has been very versatile, just recently moved to the starting lineup as a secondary ballhandler and main perimeter defender.

Wyatt McCabe slices into the paint against Rockford Jan. 29. | Photo by Jared Martinson

Wyatt McCabe slices into the paint against Rockford Jan. 29. | Photo by Jared Martinson

The Royals are tough and they’ll fight back. Whether they can weather bigger teams like Annandale, more offensively potent teams like Glencoe or just plain elite teams like Rockford will be the question moving forward. And where does that consistent outside shooting come from down the stretch, when offense in the playoffs is at a premium?

I’ll personally look forward to their matchup with Lester Prairie March 11.

Watertown-Mayer girls (6-1, 2-1 WCC West)

Off to a start that most expected of them, John Rosholt’s group of Royals have taken care of business, all six wins by at least 10 points and the lone loss coming to strong program Glencoe-Silver Lake. Maggie Czinano is cementing herself as one of the best scorers in W-M history, not to mention the entire area, at 27 points per game. As we’ve written before, she’s doing that in all new ways as defenses try to find creative strategies to slow her down — it hasn’t really mattered.

Carly Killian and Mercedes Burmeister are both in double figures too, reliable options when Czinano is being doubled or zoned.

The Section 5AA contenders are just as tough, though. Minneapolis North, Maranatha Christian and Providence Academy all sit just a little higher than the Royals in QRF rankings (though I’d say W-M’s conference is on the whole just as if not more competitive than the Minneapolis City, Skyline and IMAC).

The Royals score plenty but also only give up 49 points per game. That’s a great starting point to carry over into playoff time, when neutral gyms, nerves and stronger scouting all can come into play and affect the flow of a game.

W-M faces their biggest test yet Friday against the number one team in AA, New London-Spicer, on the road. They also notably still have Annandale twice and a rematch with the Panthers of Glencoe-Silver Lake.

BEYOND THE BOX: Young talent, learning by leading, and kids buying in

Beyond the box is a weekly look back on three of the best moments from the last week of high school sports. As sports editor, I often finish a week of coverage and move right into the next week. This weekly column will give me a chance to look back on things to put it all in perspective.

WINSTED – High school sports offer so much. In today’s climate where a global pandemic steals most of the headlines, it’s important to remember what high school sports are doing for so many people right now.
These kids are getting the chance to be active, playing the sports they love with their friends, and develop skills that will help them far beyond high school. It’s why we play.

These are important times for high school students. It’s important for them to be back in school. It’s important for them to be playing sports.

With that being said, let’s take a look at what happened this past week.

Delano girls hockey team showcases young talent

I got my first look at the Delano girls hockey team Tuesday night. Heading into the season I wasn’t sure what to expect from this team as it would be my first time covering them. Let’s say I left that game impressed.

Talent is one thing the Tigers have. They are also extremely young. Delano has just six upperclassmen on their roster this season. The average age of the team can’t even drive a car.

Taking on Hutchinson Tuesday night, it was a pair of eighth-graders who got the Tigers off to a good start. Then it was a freshman scoring. Then a sophomore.

The amount of young talent at Delano this season is fun to watch. It’s a group of girls that have already seen success this year, and with more experience, as they go on, the state of the Delano girls hockey program is bright going forward. I’m excited to see where this group can go this year and for years to come

Czinano learning while leading

The name Maggie Czinano has become a household name around the area when it comes to basketball. That’s for good reason. The University of Minnesota commit has been one of the top players in the area and seems to only get better each season.

This year has been a unique season for Czinano and the Watertown-Mayer Royals. Putting COVID-19 challenges aside, Czinano has taken on a bigger scoring role for her team this season. While she’s always been able to score, teams have been keying in on her defensively all season long.

While Czinano is still putting up big numbers against double and triple teams, it’s been impressive the way she’s done it. She’s not forcing things. She’s taking what is given to her and getting her teammates involved at the right time. While she has certainly been a leader this season, she’s also had to learn. That’s not easy to balance.

It’s been impressive to see how Czinano has carried herself so far this season. It’s not easy to learn on the fly while leading like she’s doing. It’s a testament to her as an athlete and person.

HLWW’s Carr gets the most of out his guys

Anyone who knows me around the game of basketball knows that I have a soft spot for teams and players who play defense. You can’t make every shot, but you can defend on every play. That’s been my motto for basketball since I started playing.

It’s no secret that the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted boys basketball team isn’t blessed with an abundance of elite talent like other schools across the state. Instead, they feature a group of guys who work their butts off, play hard, and play the right way. That starts with their head coach James Carr.

Carr is in his fifth year as head coach for the Lakers. I’ve been lucky enough to cover all five seasons. Each year, no matter the numbers or talent level he has, he’s right in the thick of things every year.

This year, HLWW moved to the Wright County Conference. It was a clear step up in competition for the Lakers, and they’ve shown they belong with some of the top teams already. How have they proved they belong? By buying into Carr’s philosophy. Those kids work hard each and every play. They’ve bought into working hard on defense and it’s paying off. It’s fun to watch. It feeds off on the offensive side as well. Carr talks a lot about passing up good shots for great shots. That’s a testament to kids buying in and working as a team.

When you watch HLWW play in person, you can bet that they will be the hardest working team on the floor that night. They might not win every game, but they give it all every game.

Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter.

Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports

PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL: HLWW prevails over D-C in Wright County battle

HOWARD LAKE — There are many shapes and forms a basketball game can take over the course of its 36 minutes. Tuesday’s Wright County West girls hoops matchup between Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted and Dassel-Cokato morphed into a game of alternating runs, an entertaining contest that ended in a Laker victory 51-46.

Both teams came into the night searching for their first win of the season — you wouldn’t know it by the buzz in the gym on both sides.

“We won tonight with our energy and effort,” HLWW coach Ryan Petersen said postgame. “We’ve had it every game, but things just went our way tonight. I’m proud of our team for stepping up.”

The Lakers commanded the glass most of the first half, jumping out to a 19-8 lead thanks to a size advantage and lots of offensive rebounds. Ivy Fasching paced HLWW in the first half with nine points.

On the other side, Dassel-Cokato’s struggles this season stemmed from not being able to put two halves together. They got down double digits early, but showed a ton of grit clawing back into the game led by Bailey Quern to trail just 26-22 at the break.

That 14-7 run to end the half gave the Chargers new life, pouring in eight straight points to open the second frame and go up 30-26. It was back and forth from that point on, Quern and Kezia Lee anchoring the offense and center Amelia Travis shoring up the paint on defense against HLWW 6-foot center Carolyn Remer.

D-C was up 37-32 when Fasching went on a personal run of three makes beyond the arc to give HLWW the permanent lead with a handful of minutes to go. The sophomore finished with a game-high 21 points on five three-pointers.

“She’s tough to stop when she gets going,” Petersen said. “I was proud of how the rest of the team stepped up and balanced her too.”

Remer added nine points, a handful of rebounds and four critical late-game free throws while Brooke Baumann had an active defensive game along with six points.

Some hasty decisions and unforced turnovers by Dassel-Cokato near the end of the game eventually cushioned the Laker lead despite 18 total points from leading scorer Bailey Quern and 11 from senior forward Kezia Lee.

“We fought and got back into it,” D-C coach Rob Walters said. “We have to continue to focus on what we know we can do, and not do what we know we can’t do. We’re not too young anymore to keep making those mistakes.”

Quern’s 18 were scattered all over the floor, a couple three-pointers and floaters next to a strong 75 percent from the free throw line. Lee’s physicality played a big role in the Chargers getting stops on defense in the second half and she showed off some three-point range as well. Lora Mayfield added nine points and Addison Quern was trusted with a crunch time role getting deflections on defense. The shots just didn’t come in response to HLWW’s late-game run.

“We need to be less hesitant,” Walters said. “We had a couple opportunities to win, I think. We need a couple more girls to start making shots.”

D-C travels to Annandale Friday while HLWW hosts Glencoe-Silver Lake Thursday as the Wright County West schedule rolls on.

For the complete story and more Herald Journal sports coverage, check out the Feb. 5 edition of the Herald Journal. Click here for subscription information. 

Follow Jared Martinson on Twitter: @JaredNHR