It was a packed Otter Fieldhouse, as the Underwood Rockets and Hancock Owls girls basketball teams met up for the second year in-a-row for the Section 6A title. The two teams came prepared to play and when it was all settled, it was the Rockets advancing with a 64-50 victory, on Mar. 10. The two sides had split their regulation season matchups.
The Rockets started out the game hot, scoring a lay up by Liz Lukken off the tip and built a 9-2 lead. Hancock climbed back into the game courtesy of a three point bucket and four free throws made by Misti Zemple.
Both sides had things roll offensively to begin the game and traded bucket for bucket. As the half went on, Hancock gained the upper hand and held a two to three possession lead over the final nine minutes, as they switched to a zone defense look.
After the first 18 minutes it was a 33-27 lead for the Owls, with their largest lead in the first half being at 30-22
Kaitlyn Rohloff and Zemple each had 13 points in the first half for Hancock. Underwood had three players score in the first and all had nine points each, Mo Bugbee, Kallyn Grove and Lukken.
Underwood started out the second half with a three by Lukken, pulling the Rockets within three.
A few minutes later, an offensive rebound by the Rockets and a lay up by Lukken made it a one point game and then a turnover by the Owls and another lay in by Lukken gave the Rockets a 38-37 lead with just under 14 minutes to go.
An 8-0 run would make it 40-37 with a timeout on the court. Hancock countered with a 5-2 run to tie up the contest at 42.
Basketball is a game of runs and the Rockets responded with a 9-0 out put to go up 51-42 right around the nine minute mark of the second half. The run was courtesy of Grove knocking down shots from beyond the arc.
Momentum continued to be in the Rockets favor as they stretched their lead out to 55-42. The defense for the Rockets created issues for the Owls during the run.
Rohloff ended the run with a three pointer in transition, making it 57-45.
That score would hold as the second half went under four minutes to go.
The lead would stretch out to as much as 15 points during the final minutes of the game.
In the end, Underwood outscored Hancock 37-17 in the second half.
“It was another second half that was unbelievable … the energy in the crowd tonight was unreal,” said Rockets coach Brian Hovland. “We shot the ball extremely well in the second half. When you play well at the right time, good things happen.”
Lukken finished the game with 24 points for the Rockets, Bugbee had 21 and Grove 17. Zoey Swanson had eight rebounds and four assists.
Hancock was led by Zempel with 23 and Rohloff with 20.
“Bugbee is so good defensively off the ball and she created turnovers by doubling down in the post … for whatever reason the coaching scouting report doesn’t get them set up in that until the second half,” Hovland said with a chuckle.
Underwood heads back to the state tournament for the first time in nearly two decades. The seedings are expected to be announced on Mar. 11, with quarterfinal action from the University of Minnesota beginning on Mar. 16.
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