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It wasn’t the eye-popping Carlie Wagner of a year ago at the state tournament. It was one still good enough to get the Panthers into the semifinals.
The junior sensation scored 31 points on an off-shooting night as the Panthers (30-1) pulled away from the Vikings (21-8) in the waning minutes. She had 13 points in the first half as the two teams headed to the locker room deadlocked at 25.
“It was frustrating,” said Wagner, who finished 12-for-28 from the floor and was 0-for-4 from three-point range. “It seemed like we were a step slow. We weren’t making shots and we were making bad decisions, including myself.” Wagner turned the ball over seven times.
A small Vikings squad stayed with the Panthers until nine minutes remained on the clock. Pelican Rapids trailed 38-37 at the time when the Panthers rattled off five quick points to gain control of the quarterfinal matchup. They closed the game on a 24-12 run.
“We finally picked it up in the second half and got our fast break going,” Wagner said. “Our defense was able to create some turnovers, and we were able to get out in the open court.”
Mackenzie Korf was the only Pelican Rapids player in double figures, scoring 17 points.
1. Carlie Wagner, NRHEG
Scoring half of your team's points in a win is usually a sign that you had a pretty good game. That was the case for Wagner as she put up 31 points to lead her team to victory. She really turned it on in the second half and created momentum which allowed the Panthers to pull away. Her mid-range jumper was deadly and she played stifling defense at the top of the zone, finishing with 4 steals. There was a lot of hype surrounding her before the game, and she was able to live up to it on a big stage.
2. Mackenzie Korf, Pelican Rapids
Korf seemed to be the only source of offense at times in the second half for the Vikings. She finished with 17 points and 13 of them came in the second. Her shooting performance (3-4 on three pointers in the second half) allowed Pelican Rapids to keep it close until NRHEG eventually pulled away.
3. Maddie Wagner, NRHEG
Maddie Wagner is only an 8th grader but you wouldn't know it by the way she played in this game. She scored 12 points and did so efficienty, finishing 5-9 from the field. She also had some key offensive rebounds to keep possessions alive for the Panthers. She finished with 7 offensive rebounds for the game and 9 rebounds total.
-John Kelsey, MN Girls Basketball Hub