Magic had the last trick in win over Otters [UPDATED]Published 11:27am Thursday, March 14, 2013 Updated 11:39am Thursday, March 14, 2013
By Norm Newell
The Fergus Falls girls basketball team had their season come to an abrupt halt in a heart-breaking 79-78 loss to Monticello in two overtimes at Williams Arena on the campus of the University of Minnesota Wednesday.
This was a game of runs, and for the Otters, foul issues that eventually led to its first and only loss of the season. The Otters started slowly and Monticello started hot in this game and for the first time all year, the Otters found themselves down by 10 points, 16-6, at the 11:26 mark in the first half. The Otters finally found their traction and went on a 15-0 run of their own to vault into the lead at 21-16 at the 5:19 mark. The run started with a Hanna Swenson basket, one of her five baskets in the half, then an Anna Monke 3 pointer, then Devonie Smith hit a three, then Bailey Strand also hit a three. Obviously, in between those shots, the Otter defense held Monticello scoreless as they picked up their man-to-man pressure.
Monticello got within 3 points, but Bailey Strand hit two more threes in the last minute of play while the Magic could only get one bucket back and the Otters left the floor at halftime ahead 32-25. Swenson led the Otters with 10 first-half points and Strand’s three treys gave her 9.
In the second half Strand started the Otters off with a couple more three-pointers and they pounded the ball inside to Anna Monke and Hanna Swenson as they stretched their lead to 15 points at 50-35 by the 11:34 mark. But foul problems were starting to plague the Otters, at midway through the half the foul count was Otters eight and Monticello one and they were put at the foul line every time the Otters had a foul thereafter. In the end that was the factor that swung the game in Monticello’s favor as by the end of the tie game in regulation, they had shot 25 free throws, making 17 while the Otters shot nine making only four.
In the two ensuing overtimes, Monticello shot another 12 free throws and made 10 more, while the Otters only shot six, making all six. Doing the math, you can see the advantage in a one-point loss. A major factor in the loss also was the fact Otter center Hanna Swenson fouled out with 4:45 left in the game which allowed Monticello to drive the lane much more freely after that. It also allowed Monticello’s center Bailey Bechtold to score 8 points in the two overtimes, as much as she had scored in the entire game before that.
Swenson finished the last game of her career shooting eight for eight from the field with 16 points. Another major factor was Monticello deciding to chase Bailey Strand all over the floor, which halted her 3-point streak and made scoring more difficult for the Otters.
Strand finished with 26 points for the Otters, Monke with 19 and Swenson with 18. Monticello had four players in double digits, the first time that happened against the Otters all year, with Grace Sawatzke leading the way with 23.
The Otters out-rebounded Monticello 35 to 29, but had 25 turnovers on the night to Monticello’s 16. The Otters had 23 assisted baskets, another strong total, with Rasmusson getting 10 and Strand 6. But again the statistic that stands out is the Otters were whistled for 28 fouls, while a pressing Monticello team had only 16.
“Obviously this was a tough way to end, but it was a great game for the fans, going back and forth throughout,” Otter coach Brad Strand said. “This team had a great season and has so many things they can be proud of, as they look back on it later they will realize that. With Anna going over 1,000 points and having three 1,000-point scorers with her, Brianna and Bailey; and with Bailey setting the all-time season scoring record, Brianna with the season and career assist record, and the team getting 29 straight wins, those are amazing accomplishments. Also Hanna Swenson had a great game to end her standout career as an Otter, going 8 for 8 in the limited minutes she was able to play tonight.”
The Otter girls record-breaking season comes to an end with a 29-1 record after their second straight trip to the state tournament.