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Northfield coach Tony Mathison wasn’t pleased with the way his post players performed in their first game of the season against Red Wing.
He didn’t have much to worry about the second time around Thursday in the Raiders’ 63-46 victory over the Big 9 Conference rival Wingers at Northfield High School.
Whether it was rebounding, blocking shots or finishing at the rim, Northfield’s posts got the job done in a pivotal league meeting after struggling with double teams in the Raiders' 46-45 victory against Red Wing on Nov. 30.
“The nice thing about that is they weren’t happy,” Mathison said of the first game. “I knew we’d get better. Every one of them is posting up better than they did the first game of the season.”
Annika Hoff, Rachel Kelly and Annalee Olson-Sola made their presence felt for the Raiders (13-2, 12-0), who came into the game ranked No. 3 in Class 3A by Minnesota Basketball News. They combined to pull down 19 rebounds and block eight shots.
Meanwhile, senior guard Grace Touchette took advantage of the space they helped create in the lane and finished with a team-high 20 points.
Touchette scored 16 of her points in the first half and helped lead a 13-1 run in the final five minutes of the half. She scored nine consecutive points during that surge and Northfield took a 32-17 lead at halftime.
When Red Wing defenders didn’t switch to defend Touchette, she found an opening.
“That left a lane for me, and I just took advantage of that and got to the basket,” Touchette said.
Touchette added just four points in the second half but helped facilitate the game from her point guard position.
“The thing with Grace is she’s such a calming force,” Mathison said. “She’s a fifth-year varsity player. She just calms everything down and she sees everything. She’s a coach on the floor. She knows exactly what we want to do.”
Touchette got some help offensively from Kelly, who scored 12 points on 5 of 7 shooting. Kelly had just four points on 2 of 10 shooting in the first meeting with Red Wing. Kelly’s emergence has aided the Raiders since that first game.
“She’s a rock for us,” Touchette said. “She never shows emotion, which is kind of tough for us sometimes but it’s great on the court. She’s never too high, never too low.”
Red Wing struggled from the field and shot just 26 percent for the game. Tayzha Buck did what she could from three-point range. She knocked down six three-pointers and finished with 26 points to lead Red Wing.
The No. 8-3A Wingers (11-3, 8-3) came into the game on the heels of a 53-37 loss to Rochester Mayo Tuesday that snapped an eight-game winning streak. Poor shooting added up to their second consecutive loss. Red Wing shot 26 percent from the field.
Red Wing head coach Jesse Nelson liked what he got from Buck but said his team will need more help to compete in the future.
“This is the best game I’ve ever seen Tayzha play,” Nelson said. “She battled and competed. We’ve got to be able to give her some help.”
Northfield swept the regular season series for the first time in three years against the Wingers but it’s possible to two teams will meet again in the Class 3A, Section 1 playoffs.
“We plan on meeting each other,” Mathison said.
Northfield took a big step toward claiming the Big 9 Conference title with a 63-46 victory over Red Wing at Northfield High School on Thursday.
Northfield (13-2, 12-0) led 32-17 at halftime after going on an 13-1 run in the final 5 minutes, 10 seconds of the first half. Grace Touchette scored nine of her 16 first-half points during the run, creating separation for the Raiders, who are ranked No. 3 in Class 3A by Minnesota Basketball News, in the second half. Touchette finished with a team-high 20 points.
Northfield extended its winning streak to six games with the victory and opened up more distance in the conference standings as it marches toward its first league crown in school history.
Tayzha Buck led Red Wing with 26 points to lead the No. 4-3A Wingers (11-3, 8-3), who fell for the second straight game. Rochester Mayo defeated Red Wing 53-37 to halt an eight-game winning streak on Tuesday.
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