PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL: Bulldogs survive defensive battle with HLWW

LESTER PRAIRIE — Lester Prairie girls basketball coach Mike Lee found out a lot about his team in their matchup with Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted. He learned how his team would handle adversity and the fact that his team has big goals set for themselves.

After trailing by 10 in the second half, there was no panic in the Bulldogs. Despite being a young team, Lester Prairie battled back and held off the Lakers’ last-second chance to survive and come away with a 43-42 win on their home floor Tuesday night.

“I think I have three kids who can drive on this team,” Lee said. “The kids that were on the floor didn’t panic. It’s teaching them and they stepped up and did a nice job.”

A back and forth affair early on, it was HLWW who threw the first punch in the second half. A 10-0 run fueled by a pair of 3-pointers from Emma Kallio gave the Lakers a 35-25 lead with seven minutes left to go.

“We’ve been waiting for that from Emma,” HLWW coach Ryan Petersen said. “She’s one of those players where you know it’s coming. You just don’t know when. It was a big game for her and we’re looking forward to seeing that more from her throughout the rest of the year.”

There was no panic for the Bulldogs though facing their biggest deficit of the game. When the going got tough, Lester Prairie relied on their most experienced player in senior Kara Lee. One of two seniors on the team, Lee stepped up by knocking down two big 3-pointers to get the Bulldogs back into the game.

“It was nice that she took the shots,” Lee said. “Last year, she wouldn’t have taken those shots. She’s taking those shots this year. She knows she has to this year so that’s nice to see.”

Lester Prairie would retake the lead on a basket from Jessa Heimerl only to see HLWW respond. Five-straight points from Ivy Fasching gave the Lakers a 42-39 lead but once again the Bulldogs battled back.
A basket from Jessa Heimerl brought Lester Prairie within one. Just seconds later, Addison Hoof came up with a steal and another basket putting the Bulldogs up one with 44 seconds to go.

After both teams missed the front end of the bonus, HLWW had one last chance to win the game with 3.8 seconds left. After an inbounds pass found its way to Carolyn Remer, her shot rolled off the rim as Lester Prairie held on for the win in a defensive battle throughout.

“They had a nice chance at the end,” Lee said. “They came up short and we got the rebound. It’s nice to get a win like this early in the season. It’s a big win for us.”

“It’s definitely a learning experience for us,” Petersen said. “We liked what we saw at the end there. There was no timeout call and it was just them making a play. There was an opportunity there and we were inches away from getting the win. We just said failure is growth and we’re looking to learn from this and have it translate to something better down the road.”

Lee knew HLWW’s height would present a challenge. Despite a concentrated effort by the Lakers to get the ball inside, Lee’s bunch held their own throughout.

“They were the biggest team we faced to this point,” Lee said. “We have not been the bigger team this year and we won’t be bigger than any team we play. They were the tallest we’ve played for sure and that was a concern. Our girls dug down and when their bigs brought the ball down we were getting jump balls. That’s big for us.”

Although HLWW struggled to convert inside in the loss, using their height will be a key focus on the offensive end of the floor going forward this season.

“We like to go inside,” Petersen said “We have a lot of size and try to use that to our advantage. Then we want our guards to play off that. We did a good job today but just didn’t finish at times. We’re learning and hopefully, that gets better as we go.”

With just two seniors and one junior on the roster, Lee has a new way of looking at things this year. With more than half the roster getting their first varsity experience last year, it’s taken a new way of coaching and it’s paying off as the Bulldogs are xx after the win over HLWW.

“I don’t want to say more coaching, but it’s more teaching,” Lee said. “It’s a lot more teaching. These kids love it. They soak it up and they listen well. They’re so tough on themselves in the locker room. You think they’d be a little more excited that they won. They know they have a long ways to go and they want to go to work. They have goals and I give them a lot of credit and respect that. They’re listening to anything our coaching staff tells them.”

For the complete story and more Herald Journal sports coverage, check out the Dec, 17 edition of the Herald Journal. Click here for subscription information.  Subscribers have full access to this article and more by clicking here. Subscriptions start as low as $1.50 for a two-day subscription, the same price as a newspaper on a newsstand.

Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *