Otter D ruffles Cards feathersPublished 10:21am Wednesday, February 20, 2013
The No. 1 ranked (3A) Fergus Falls girls basketball team met and conquered another big challenge, playing at No. 7 ranked (2A) Staples in a game of teams both with over 20 wins on the season, and came out with a 52-44 victory.
Just like their big challenge 10 days ago playing No. 9 ranked (3A) Thief River Falls away from home, the Otter defense again came through and controlled the game. That was a tall order against a high flying Staples offense that drives and kicks for a lot of three point shots and averages scores in the 60’s. But at one point in the second half, with Staples trailing by 10 points, the Otter match-up zone defense made them take exactly a minute before they could get any shot off; then the next possession Staples took nearly a minute and a half to get a shot off.
Some may wonder why the Otters only scored 52 points, but it largely was because Staples took so much time off the clock when they had the ball just to get any kind of shot. In fact, the Otter offense was quite productive in that they shot 43 percent from the floor, while holding Staples to only 27 percent shooting, which effectively was the story of the game. Staples’ offense is built around shooting a lot of three pointers and they shot 22 of them in this game, but only made seven. They shot 25 two-pointers and only made six. If you do the math, and math is Otter coach Strand’s teaching area, you know that’s a result of just plain really good defense.
For the Otters, it was two much Hanna Swenson and Anna Monke inside for Staples to handle. Swenson had another big double-double for the Otters, pouring in 19 points and taking down 10 rebounds. Monke added 10 points and five boards, but also had four steals inside and blocked a couple of shots.
On the outside, Brianna Rasmusson and Bailey Strand took turns scoring for the Otters, as Rasmusson had nine in the first half and Strand 10 in the second half. Rasmusson finished with a rare double-double of 13 points and 10 assists, as she continued to pad her career assist record with several nice passes inside to Swenson and Monke and a couple of back door passes to Strand.
Staples had two players in double figures with Jasmine McGillivray dropping in 13 and Kaitlin Spar hitting for 10 points.
Another controlling factor was the Otters out-rebounding Staples 31 to 18, giving up only 5 offensive rebounds on the night.
It was a tough defensive back and forth game in the first half with both teams having the lead at various times. Staples pulled ahead 18-17 at the 4:20 mark, then Monke put the Otters back ahead, but Staples came right back for a 20-19 lead with 1:20 to go. Rasmusson then got the big momentum shot for the Otters, hitting a three point shot with six seconds left in the half to put the Otters in the locker room with a 22-20 lead.
Two minutes into the second half it was a 1-point game, but then the Otters went on a six point run that gave them a lead they never relinquished. At the 8:18 mark in the second half Fergus Falls had a nine-point lead and that was when the Otter defense made Staples take over two minutes of time just to get a couple of shots off. Free throws by Swenson, Strand and Rasmusson in the last couple of minutes sealed the game for the Otters, and they walked off with their 24th straight win on their season.
“Hanna Swenson had a great game for us, getting some nice passes from teammates that she finished well under the basket,” commented Otter coach Strand. “Kathryn Sawtell, who didn’t score, had just a great defensive game, bringing energy all over the floor and taking away the perimeter three-pointer from Staples. In a low scoring game we had 19 assisted baskets which is indicative of an offense moving the ball well and finding the right person at the right time. Finally, we had great fan support there and the team could hear them cheering them on, which helped us get a big win against a quality opponent that is favored to win their section.”
The Otters won the JV game also, playing arguably their best half of basketball this year in scoring 40 points in the first half, in just a 14 minute half. They went on to win 59-50. The Otters handled the Staples press very well, with big first half scoring on the inside as Brooklyn Seland scored 12 points and Ashley Reinertson eight. But the overall game belonged to Amber Boese who had a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Otters in both those categories.
Staples did salvage the ninth grade game, using a constant full court press to stop the Otters 51-35. Katelyn Strand led the Otters with 10 points and Hallie Bach dropped in eight.
The Otter girls will be back in action Thursday as they head out on the road to take on Central Lakes Conference foe Brainerd Warriors in 7:30 p.m.
FERGUS FALLS (52) – H. Swenson 19, B. Rasmusson 13, B. Strand 10, A. Monke 10.
STAPLES (44) – J. McGillivray 13, K. Spar 10, J. Beachy 9, M. Wing 7, K. Nyhus 3, K. Pearson 2.
FF 22 30 — 52
SM 20 24 — 44