By Per Peterson
Friday night’s girls’ basketball game between rivals TMB and Lac qui Parle Valley was a tale of two halves. And that was just in the first half.
In a game of runs and spontaneous domination by both teams, the Panthers edged the Eagles, 59-58, to claim the overall top spot in the Camden Conference.
“We knew this was going to be a game of runs,” TMB coach Derek Ashbaugh said. “Lac qui Parle is a very good team, but I think our girls did an awesome job of competing the entire night.”
TMB’s defense once again set the tone early. In opening the game by scoring 25 of the first 30 points, they didn’t allow a field goal for the first 5:25. The flustered Eagles, perhaps rushing their offense to keep up with the Panthers, committed eight early turnovers.
“Too many turnovers early,” said first-year LQPV coach John Nolte. “When you have turnovers against the press, the opponents are going to score. I think the main thing we struggled with was the physicality. TMB has some fantastic post players, and we did not do a good job of taking that away. I really feel like that contributed a lot to the run TMB had to start the game.”
“We just had to focus on defense and play together as a team,” said senior Evy Dolan. “We started off strong and wanted to maintain it.”
But they didn’t.
Given the teams’ history, no one in the gym Friday night expected the Panthers’ dominance to last, and the Eagles slowly clawed their way back into the game. Using their strength — three-point shooting — the Eagles flipped momentum in the second half of the opening 18 minutes. They sunk three straight three-pointers to clip the Panthers’ lead to 27-17, and one more with :18 left made it a six-point game at the half.
“We let up just a little bit and they caught fire,” Dolan said. “They’re a really good shooting team, and we just lost our focus for a little while.”
The 26-12 run to end the half included three-point baskets from three different players.
“That’s our strength,” Nolte said. “We had some payers who were looking to shoot the three a little more than they usually do. “
LQPV took its first lead on back-to-back threes by Haley Wollschlager, who was 5-for-10 from beyond the arc and finished with 17 points. As a team, LQPV made 11-of 22 three-pointers.
“We knew Lac qui Parle was going to come back,” Ashbaugh said. “They fought back and took the lead, but we just had to keep battling the entire time.”
Kaylee Kirk took it upon herself to stem the tide. She outscored LQPV 11-5 over a 3:41 stretch of the second half, allowing TMB to maintain their slight advantage. Still, the Eagles weren’t about to go away.
The lead changed hands four times over the last 2:27. The Eagles grabbed a short-lived 56-55 lead, but Alecia Christian scored on a driving layup and on the Panthers’ next possession made one of two free throws to tie it at 58. She missed the second of her two charity shots, but the Panthers got the rebound and called timeout. Kirk was then fouled and made one of two free throws.
“We assumed she was going to hit both of them — she got one,” Ashbaugh said. “We just had to make sure we didn’t give up anything easy (on the other end of the court). If they’re going to hit a shot, they were going to hit a tough one. “
Wollschlager got a pretty good look at the potential game-winner, but it bounced off the rim. The Eagles got the ball right back, but were denied another good look at the basket.
“We talked about getting the ball in quick and getting it down the floor quickly,” Nolte said. “I thought we actually had a good shot for the win — unfortunately it didn’t go in.”
“We told the girls if they miss, they don’t get a second shot,” Ashbaugh said. “(Sid) Karbo ends up tipping the ball away and then time runs out. It was a little close for comfort.”
The loss avenges — at least on some level — the Panthers’ overtime loss to the Eagles in last year’s Camden Conference championship game in Madison.
“We went up there last year for the conference championship and it didn’t end up the way we wanted,” Dolan said. “We just came into this game and were ready to give it all we had.”
Kirk added seven assists, five rebounds and five steals to her Friday-night resumé, while Dolan (12) and Syd Lanoue (11) combined for 23 points. Dolan also had 12 rebounds. TMB outrebounded LQPV 29-18.
The TMB B-squad suffered a tough 34-33 loss.
LQPV 31 27 — 58
TMB 37 31 — 59
Wollschlager 5-13 2-2 17, K. Lund 7-16 6-6 25, Schim 1-1 0-0 2, M. Lund 1-1 0-0 3, Hegland 2-7 1-2 5, Kranz 3-6 0-1 6. Totals: 19-44 (43%) 9-11 (82%). 2PT: 36%. 3PT: 50%. Assists: 16. Rebounds: 18. Steals: 8. Turnovers: 18.
Smith 0 2-2 2, Kirk 5-14 11-13 22, Karbo 1-6 0-0 3, Lanoue 3-9 5-7 11, Dolan 6-12 0-2 12, Karkle 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 19-52 (37%) 19-26 (73%). 2PT: 43%. 3PT: 17% Assists: 18 (Kirk 7). Rebounds: 29 (Dolan 12). Blocks: 2 (Karbo).Steals: 14 (Kirk 5, Lanoue, Dolan 4). Turnovers: 18.