Randy Carlson / For The Journal Above: The third place Class AAA State winners with the trophy in St. Paul. Below: Fergus' junior Anna Monke is introduced at the start of the third state playoff game for third place

Archived Story

Girls claim 3rd at State [UPDATED]

Published 10:52am Monday, March 19, 2012 Updated 12:13pm Monday, March 19, 2012

Before the Fergus Falls girls basketball team took the Gangelhoff Center Court at Concordia University in St. Paul, Josh Mohagen, Otter head coach, reminded his team that only two Class AAA teams will end their season with a victory.

The Otters made sure they ended the 30-2magical season with a 65-54 win over the Hutchinson Tigers Saturday afternoon in the AAA third-place game.

Two clutch free throws from Otter Hanna Swenson allowed Fergus Falls to take a pivotal 59-51 lead with two minutes left.

“I just knew I had to make them,” said Swenson. “I couldn’t think about missing them, and I just threw them in.”

On Hutchinson’s next chance, Kaylee Kucera knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Tigers life, just seconds after Swenson’s made charity stripe chances. After the made bucket, Hutchinson would come up with a turnover, but was called for a travel mere seconds after the steal.

After forcing a turnover, and all of the momentum on their side, Otter Sydney Schultz put the game away with a wide-open layup. On the ensuing possession, Hutchinson’s Kucera was called for a travel to seal the Tigers’ fate.

All that was left was for the clock to tick away.

“We just needed the clock to go down faster, to make sure we won,” said Swenson. “The ending was just awesome.”

The victory allowed the Otters (30-2) to take home the third-place trophy, their highest finish since 1957. After the victory, the Otters were emotional, with plenty of hugs and high-fives from the faithful and their teammates.

“It feels good to win your last game of the season,” said Mohagen. “This is such a special group of kids. Our four seniors, as leaders, as role models, mean so much to this program. Carly (Ouren), Mariah (Monke), Haylie (Zenner) and Sydney will be very hard to replace.”

Swenson, who will be a senior next year, played very strong for the Otters.

“I really had to step up for this game,” said Swesnon, who finished with 12 points in the second half and a game-high 20 in the contest. “All of our sophomores, juniors and seniors, especially the seniors, stepped up.”

The Otters led 31-24 at halftime and then took command of the contest with a strong second-half run that started with 13 minutes left in the contest. After Tiger Alissa Ratterath drained a 3-pointer, Schultz answered with a 3-pointer of their own.

“I’m extremely proud of what the girls were able to do,” said Mohagen. “It was just a great season.

To their credit, Hutchinson, who finished the season 26-5, never gave up.

“Hutchinson challenged us all game long,” said Swenson. “I wish we would have played this good on Thursday.”

The Tigers just couldn’t stop the Otters when they got rolling late in the state game.

“We really went after at it, and I knew they (Otters) were tired,” said Mohagan. “They barely had anything in the tank.”

Fergus’ Schultz, who scored the first two points of the contest for the Otters and ended up with 12 total points, was a thorn in the Tigers’ side with her strong defense and salty offense.

Mariah Monke, who ended up with 13 points, five assists, five rebounds and four blocks, gave fits to the Tigers on both ends of the court all game long.

Sister, and fellow post-player Anna Monke went 2-for-3 from behind the 3-point line, and ended with 12 points and five rebounds. Zenner and sophomore Brainna Rasmusson both scored two points.

For Hutchinson, Kucera had 19 and Nichole Wittman scored 12. Alissa Retterath poured in nine points. Both Julius Morgan and Taylor Jurgenson scored six in the state tournament setback.

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