By Per Peterson
With fresh legs and the motivation only tournament basketball can bring, the Tracy-Milroy-Balaton girls’ basketball team — the real Tracy-Milroy-Balaton girls’ basketball team — disposed of Pipestone Area, 71-31, in the second round of the Section 3AA tournament Thursday.
Back on Feb. 3, the Panthers and Pipestone Area met at Southwest Minnesota State University for a noon game, just hours after TMB defeated rival Minneota, 70-66, in overtime. The Panthers weren’t physically ready to play in the matinee and were held to eight first-half points in a sloppy 45-40 win. But last week, the Panthers came out fresh and ready to play, scoring 43- first-half points and running away with an easy 40-point victory.
“The girls were incredibly focused, they had a couple days to prepare for this,” TMB coach Derek Ashbaugh said. “It does help not playing the night before.”
There was nothing lackluster about Thursday’s sequel against the Arrows, especially in the first half. Junior guard Cassidy Smith scored 10 of the Panthers’ first 27 points, including her second three-pointer with 7:07 left in the first half that gave her team a 27-14 lead. Another three by Smith pushed the Panther advantage to 33-15. The lead hit 23 points on a three-pointer by Laura Karkle with 1:28 to go in the first half.
For the game, the Panthers made 7-of-14 three pointers and shot 50% from the field.
“We had good shots and were able to turn Pipestone over a little bit,” Ashbaugh said. “There was a chance they might sink back to double our post players, and she (Smith) was ready to go — good for her. She has been playing well the last couple weeks, really coming along, and that’s big for us.
“We executed exactly what we wanted to do. A lot of girls contributed tonight. I just told all the girls they had to be ready to shoot,” he added.
The Arrows’ game plan in the teams’ first meeting was to slow the pace down and keep TMB from putting big scoring runs together. Last month, it worked. Not so Thursday night, however.
The Panthers kept their foot on the gas in the second half Thursday, hitting five of their first eight shots as their lead ballooned to 30 points on, you guessed it, another three-pointer by Smith.
“She was kind of feeling it there, kind of got into a flow,” Ashbaugh said of Smith, who along with Kirk led the Panthers with 17 points. “I think we knew they were going to try to slow the game down, and we were going to try to push tempo as much as we could. Again, not coming off of an overtime game the night before had a lot to do with that.”
Not to be overlooked, TMB’s defense had something to do with the final point spread. It took four minutes for the Arrows to get their first points of the second half, and they didn’t connect on their first field goal until the 12:08 mark of the half. Their next field goal came almost eight minutes later, when they trailed by 39.
Along with her 17 points, Kirk also dished out 11 assists and had four rebounds. Syd Lanoue and Evy Dolan were both efficient offensively. Lanoue had 11 points on nine field goal attempts, while Dolan had nine points on just six field goal attempts. Dolan also had seven rebounds and Lanoue six.
TMB was 12-of-13 from the free throw line and turned the ball over just 10 times. The Panthers won the battle on the boards, 30-21.
“The girls have a hunger right now and it shows,” Ashbaugh said. “Pipestone’s a very good rebounding team, but we worked hard tonight. I thought we were a little complacent the first time we played them.”
PA 23 8 — 31
TMB 43 28 — 71
Hulstein 2-9 0-0 5, Bloemendaal 3-9 0-1 7, Velde 3-6 0-1 8, Carson 1-2 0-0 2, MIller 0-6 4-6 4, Skyberg 2-8 0-1 5. Totals: 11-46 (24%) 4-9 (44%). 2PT: 21%. 3PT: 29%. Assists: 9. Rebounds: 21. Blocks: 3. Steals: 4. Turnovers: 20.
Smith 5-10 3-4 17, Kirk 8-14 1-1 17, Karbo 1-1 0-0 3, Edwards 1-4 2-2 4, Christian 1-2 0-0 3, Rolling 0-1 0-0 0, Alberg 0-0 2-2 2, Lanoue 5-9 1-1 11, Dolan 4-6 1-1 9, Karkle 1-4 2-2 5. Totals: 26-52 (50%) 12-13 (92%). 2PT: 50%. 3PT: 50%. Assists: 20 (Kirk 11). Rebounds: 30 (Dolan 7, Lanoue 6). Blocks: 3 (Karbo 2, Edwards). Steals: 8 (Smith, Edwards 2). Turnovers: 10.