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Monticello's Ashlyn Cole picked up teammate Christine Lui as their team celebrated a win against Fergus Falls.

 

Monticello charged back from 15 points down to upset third-seeded Fergus Falls 79-78 in double-overtime in the Class 3A quarterfinals Wednesday at Williams Arena.

The Otters had a 15-0 run in the first half, and led 50-35 in the second. But the Magic battled back and narrowed the lead until Grace Sawatzke stole the ball and scored on a layup with about 15 seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 63-all.

The teams traded baskets in the first overtime, which ended tied at 69-all. In the second overtime, Monticello (24-6) scored eight points on free throws, including two by senior Bailey Bechtold to widen the lead and put the game just out of reach. It was Monticello’s first state tournament victory ever.

Fergus Falls (29-1) had won 30 consecutive games, including last year’s third-place contest in the state tournament.

“It’s a huge win; we always said 29-1 sounds a lot better than 30-0,” Sawatzke said.

Sawatzke scored 23 points and had eight assists for the Magic. Alyssa Lentner added 18 points and Gabby Laimer and Bechtold had 16 apiece. Bailey Strand of Fergus Falls had 26 points.

Monticello made its first trip to the state tournament last year, and drew on that experience to help maintain its composure in a tight game, head coach Craig Geyen said.

The Magic will play DeLaSalle in the state semifinals Thursday looking for revenge. The two-time defending state 3A champions defeated Monticello in last year’s state tournament.

DEREK WETMORE

Wingers’ star shines

Red Wing 63, New Prague 45: Wingers coach Dave Muelken reeled off several reasons for the Wingers’ quarterfinal victory over the Trojans: strong defense, senior leadership, positive attitude, familiarity with Williams Arena and confidence gained from playing an opponent they had defeated twice during the regular season.

But the biggest reason stood 6-feet tall with a thick headband, a gymful of game and unlimited confidence.

Tesha Buck, Red Wing’s do-everything guard, used this game as a personal showcase. She scored 32 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out four assists. Most importantly, she led Red Wing into the semifinals after state tournament losses in the first game the past two seasons.

“She was great, as usual,” Muelken said. “It’s nice to have a player who can get you a basket whenever you need it.”

The game didn’t start well for Buck. The Wisconsin-Green Bay recruit committed two fouls early as New Prague took a 9-5 lead. But she found her game shortly thereafter, scoring nine consecutive points in an array of ways: pull-up jumper, long three-pointer, baseline drive and a fast-break layup. Red Wing led 25-15 at halftime, with Buck scoring 19 points

She continued her high-scoring ways well into the second half and would have had more had she not fouled out with two minutes left.

“We’ve come down here the last two years and fell short,” Buck said. “This is my senior year. I want to go out with a bang.”

JIM PAULSEN

Richfield runs over foe

Richfield 54, Hill-Murray 35: The Spartans shrugged off a sputtering start, perhaps to be expected considering the 10 a.m. start time, and eventually found their transition game late in the first half to rout the Pioneers.

The Spartans (27-3) turned to their superstar, guard Jessica January, early and she responded, scoring eight points in a row to give Richfield a 10-2 lead. More importantly, it gave Richfield enough of a cushion to figure out how to handle the taller Pioneers.

Richfield’s trademark defense — pressuring the ball on the perimeter and overplaying the passing lanes — started to have its usual effect midway through the first half. The Spartans cranked up their running game, outscoring the Pioneers 16-5 to turn a two-point advantage into a 30-17 halftime lead.

“We started to get uncomfortable at about the 12-minute mark of the first half, that’s what happens with 16-, 17-year-old kids,” Richfield coach Scott Stadem said. “But then we started defending like we were capable, pushed them out of their comfort zone and took them out of their game.”

It was more of the same after halftime. Richfield went on a 10-3 run to take a 40-20 lead and maintained a lead of at least 16 points.

January led Richfield with 19 points and five steals. Kaitlin Langer score 12 points to pace Hill-Murray (19-11).

JIM PAULSEN

Threepeat still possible

DeLaSalle 73, Chisago Lakes 49: It wasn’t a thing of beauty but, at this point in the season, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about advancing.

That’s what the two-time defending state champion Islanders (26-4) accomplished in ousting the Wildcats (22-8) in a sluggish matchup.

DeLaSalle senior standouts Tyseanna Johnson and Allina Starr combined for 21 points in the first half as the Islanders built an 11-point lead despite shooting 36 percent. They were even worse from the free-throw line, only 33 percent.

“We did what we had to in order to get to the second round,” said Johnson, one of four Islanders in double figures with 16 points. She also had 13 rebounds. “We didn’t start out the way we wanted, but we eventually stepped it up.”

Sophomore forward Taylor Toney paced the Islanders with 17 points. Guard Patiance Griffin, another sophomore, had 14 points and Starr 13.

“Our younger players had some jitters as the beginning of the game,” Johnson said. “They gained more confidence as the game went on.”

Chisago Lakes’ 6-5 junior center Bryanna Fernstrom, a Division I prospect, had 17 points and 14 rebounds.

RON HAGGSTROM

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