FF girls surge past NuggetsPublished 10:54am Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Effort. With a capital “E”. You can’t buy it at the store or get it handed down from someone else. It’s a mindset that you believe and practice and it becomes ingrained. And the Otter girls basketball team used that ingrained defensive effort to wear down a patterned and methodical Hawley team, over-running them in the second half to win going away 65-42.
It didn’t start out that way, as the Otters started slowly offensively and Hawley was running their patterned offensive sets very well, dribble-driving the lane and dishing off to the spot-up shooters when help came to step out to an early 13-7 lead.
Hawley’s 6’2” center Drew Sannes was the beneficiary of many of those dump-offs and she hit her shots to ring up 17 first half points for the Nuggets.
Meanwhile, the Otters offense sputtered somewhat, although they came back to tie the game at the 10 minute mark 15-15. They fell behind again, tied it up at 23-23 at the 6 minute mark, were still tie at 2:15 left in the first half when Anna Monke scored, the Otters rebounded a missed Hawley shot, and then scored a three-point play on a Hanna Swenson rebound put-back and free throw with a second left in the half.
It was a big momentum burst for the Otters as they went into the locker room with a five point halftime lead, 34-29. The Otters had balanced scoring throughout the first half while Sannes (17) and Mira Ellefson (8) had all but four of the Hawley points.
The Otters came out the second half with the first possession and scored, got a Hawley turnover and scored again right away with an additional free throw to go up by 10 quickly into the half. The Otters continued with the strong pressure while the Hawley offense seemed to wilt. Drew Sannes did not score in the second half, and for that matter, Hawley only had four made baskets from the floor the entire second half.
The Otters got into their offensive flow and Bailey Strand got hot, hitting a couple of three pointers as well as some two’s on drives inside to toss in 15 second half points, leading all scorers with 20 on the night. Brianna Rasmusson had nine assists for the game with a couple of nice looks inside to Kristin Traiser, while Bailey Strand and Anna Monke had a couple of nice dishes to Hanna Swenson also. The Otters out-scored Hawley 31-13 in the second half as their constant defensive pressure took Hawley out of their patterned offense and the help on the dribble-drives tightened up to shut the Nuggets down.
The statistics tell the story of the game, as Hawley was 10 of 20 shots in the first half (50 percent shooting) , but only got 14 shots up the second half and made but four (29 percent shooting), ending up shooting 41 percent from the floor for the game. The Otters shot 48 percent overall.
Fergus Falls had a big rebounding edge, 24-15 and caused 22 Hawley turnovers while only turning it over 11 times. The other big difference was balanced scoring, as Hawley had only two players with more than four points, while the Otters had six players with seven or more points, led by Strand’s 20.
“I thought our players really put in a tremendous amount of effort tonight, especially knowing that a well-coached Hawley team is going to make you work defensively,” noted Otter coach Brad Strand. “That effort and I believe our conditioning wore Hawley down in the second half. At the same time, we picked up our offensive execution greatly mid-way into the first half and in the second half, with more movement and some nice passing to put the game away. Ending the first half with that last second three-point play was a good mental boost for our girls.”
The JV game had the same pattern as the varsity game, as the Otters and Hawley were tied 12-12 at halftime, but pressure defense in the second half that caused numerous turnovers allowed the Otters to pull away to a 37-24 victory. Claire Kotschevar led the Otters with nine points, and Jileen Tenneson, Rachel Johnson and Brooklyn Seland contributed eight points each. Seland led the Otters with 10 rebounds.
Finally, the ninth grade game also followed suit, as the Otters trailed at halftime, but used strong defense and balanced scoring to pull away to a 43-34 victory over the Nuggets.
The Otters pass the midway mark of the season undefeated at 14-0. They are on the road to CLC foe St. Cloud Tech on Thursday night, always a tough place to play. They follow that with an afternoon matinee game Saturday at Willmar, with a 3 p.m. tip-off.