In spite of the end, it was a great ridePublished 11:44am Thursday, March 14, 2013
A great season, a section title, a state appearance.
It might not be the way that the Otter fans want to remember the Fergus Falls girls basketball season. Hopes were high that this team could outdo last season’s third-place finish. But just when the game looked under control for the Otters, the wheels began to fall off.
The Otters opened the game to a slow start, getting used to the noise and high profile atmosphere of the University of Minnesota’s Williams Arena. Fergus seemed to find their groove midway through the half as Hannah Swenson posted up and put down 10 points and Bailey Strand’s three-point shots sailed through the net.
This was the Otter team that Fergus fans came to see. The amazing inside-outside attack looked like it worked, as the Monticello Magic couldn’t choose who to guard. But that is why a game is two halves.
At around the 11-minute mark in the second half, the tide changed. Fouls by the Otters sent the Magic to the free throw line way more times than you could count, and having Swenson foul out with less than five minutes to play left the girls up the river.
At that point, the arena grew quiet on the Otters side. Even the Fergus Falls band loss some pep. Sitting courtside, I believed the girls would snap out of it. There was nothing in the 29 previous games that would say otherwise. But after the Magic forced two overtimes, the gas finally ran out on this drive to state.
But the loss to Monticello shouldn’t wipe away one of the most amazing basketball seasons in Fergus Falls history. The Otters won an unpresented 30 straight games, saw point guard Brianna Rasmusson shatter the single season assist record. Both Rasmusson and Strand went over the 1,000-point milestone in their careers, with a senior season to go. The team held the number one ranking in Class AAA all season long.
Fans stood waiting to cheer their Otter girls as they prepared to load the bus and return home. Many future Otter girls will remember this game and how hard the team worked to represent their school and their community.
I applaud Coach Brad Strand for making the transition of a new coach as easy as possible for the girls. Strand brought a different style of play to the Otters, making them more aggressive in the transition game, while also continuing the strong defensive foundation laid by former coach Josh Mohagen.
The Barn is silent now as the cleaning staff picks up the bleachers and the staff sweeps the floor. As hard as it is to say goodbye, Otter fans will be able to hold on to hope as they will return four of the five starters for another potential state run. I know I, like the rest of the Otter faithful, will be waiting in the wings for another chance to follow them at state.