Hill-Murray's Tessa Cichy releases a half-court shot that banked in just before the halftime buzzer. /Star Tribune photo, Jerry Holt
Those baskets certainly weren’t the only reason the Class 3A, No. 1 Pioneers rolled to a 84-49 victory over the Class 3A, No. 6 Spartans. But they did provide a nice microcosm of a night during which everything seemed to go Hill-Murray’s way.
“We all played really well,” said Cichy, who finished with 11 points. “These are the kinds of games that show us what we can do. We are getting better every game.”
Hill-Murray's Bethany Doolittle goes up for a close-range shot against Richfield's Bryann Guyton. /Star Tribune photo by Jerry Holt
With several Big Ten coaches – including the Gophers’ Pam Borton – on hand presumably to watch Cichy, a junior guard, and Richfield’s Jessica January, a sophomore who leads the metro in scoring at 26.4 points per game – it was Hill-Murray senior center and Iowa signee Bethany Doolittle who shined the brightest.
Doolittle, listed at 6-4, scored on a variety of layups, runners and even a couple of jumpers against a Richfield squad that doesn’t have anyone taller than 5-10 on its varsity roster. She had 21 of her game-high 33 points before halftime which – combined with Cichy’s back-breaking half-court heave – staked the Pioneers to a 44-22 lead at the break.
January had nine of her team-high 20 points early in the second half, pulling the Spartans within 51-33. But that was as close as Richfield would get the rest of the way, as Hill-Murray (15-0) primarily held January in check and pulled away.
“She’s as good as we’re going to see, and we contained her pretty well,” Hill-Murray coach Erin Herman said.
From the Richfield (11-3) bench, the game didn’t look so pretty.
“They’re just good, and we didn’t have the manpower,” Richfield coach LeeAnn Wise said, noting her team was missing three players nursing injuries. “That was an old-fashioned butt-whupping.”
Bethany Doolittle, Hill-Murray
Hill-Murray senior Bethany Doolittle had a game-high 33 points in the Pioneers' 84-49 victory over Richfield on Tuesday. We caught up with Doolittle -- a 6-4 center who has signed to play with Iowa -- after the game.
Q You put up 33 points. What was working for you tonight -- aside from a little bit of everything?
A I kind of knew I was close to going over 1,000 points in my career, and I wanted to come out and play my hardest and get it here against Richfield, one of the toughest team in our conference.
Q You went past that 1,000 career point mark with your last basket of the first half. What does it mean to pass that threshold?
A It's nice to get all those points. It's just a fun milestone, to know I can get that far.
Q Richfield has had a nice run in the conference. How does it feel to put up such a lopsided victory on their home court?
A Yeah, they're one of the best teams in our conference. It was really nice to do our best and set the tone for the next match-up this year. One of our big things this year is beating Richfield.
Q OK, last thing. Did I really see you pick up three fouls on one possession? What was up with that?
A Yeaaaaah. I'm not sure. I don't know what was going on. I don't think that's ever happened to me before. I was kind of getting frustrated after the second one, and then the third one I was just like, "This is weird." I was frustrated, but I played through it.