No. 1 Plainview-Elgin-Millville, upstart New London-Spicer reach 2A finals
By Bruce Strand
Top-ranked Plainview-Elgin-Millville and unranked New London-Spicer will clash for the Class 2A state championship Saturday after a pair of riveting victories on Friday evening’s semifinals.
P-E-M outgunned Roseau 87-78 in a south-north duel of high-powered offenses, and NL-S upset No. 2 Sauk Centre 49-46 on Shea Oman’s driving three-point play with 4.5 seconds left.
It will be the eighth title game in 16 state trips for NLS, which has won two titles, and the first title game for P-E-M, although Elgin-Millville went five times and had one championship. The odds are against the Wildcats (25-6) improving on their 2-5 record in state finals against P-E-M (30-1) but they’ve pulled off a few surprises already.
“They are awfully good,” NLS coach Mike Dreier said about P-E-M, “but we’re just going to enjoy this for a while, then think about that.”
Bulldogs turn back Rams rally 87-78
Plainview-Elgin-Millville emerged a 87-78 winner over a sisters-fueled Roseau team that will have a good shot at the 2017 state title.
Roseau, ranked No. 6, was within 37-35 at halftime, but succumbed to PEM’s depth, height and skills. The Bulldogs pulled away at the end despite losing their best player, Sarah Hart, with five fouls, and despite Roseau’s star, Kiley Borowicz, pouring in 35 points.
Sophomore forward Hayley Dessner led the Bulldogs (30-1) with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Chloe Holtz shot 7-for-8 from the field and scored 20 points. Hart, set for D-1 basketball at St. Bonaventure, had 14 points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes of court time. Emmaline Polson notched 12 points and nine rebounds, and Morgan Shindelar eight points.
After two years knocking hard on the door, the Bulldogs are where they want to be and expected to be.
“Two years ago we lost in the section finals to Kenyon-Wanamingo, which got second at state, and last year we lost in the section finals to Dover-Eyota in overtime by one point, and they won the state championship,” coach Jason Melbostad said. “When we asked the girls about goals at the start of the year, like we always do, the majority said state championship.”
First they had to get past the state’s top scoring team (81 points per game) led by junior guard Kiley Borowicz, one of three sisters in the game. Borowicz, already a 2,000-point scorer, grabbed 12 rebounds along with her 35 points.
The Bulldogs usually win big, even against the strongest foes, but couldn’t shake off the Rams until the last three minutes when they pulled away from a 76-74 lead.
“We have not played a team like that,” said Melbostad. “We got ahead by about nine points and after that we were just trading baskets. That number 44 was unstoppable. We tried three different players (guarding) her, and three or four different styles, and nothing worked.”
Kacie Borowicz, a freshman with over 1,000 points, tallied 23 against PEM. Seventh-grader Katie Borowicz had four points, five rebounds and two assists in 21 minutes and looks like another budding star. Victoria Johnson, sophomore center, had 10 points and 10 rebounds while blocking four shots. Another underclassman starter is junior Ivy Braaten.
“We’ll have four starters back and I think we have some good underclassmen,” said Kacie. “So we hope to come back here.”
The Rams (28-4) also made semifinals last year.
“Last year, we played in this game, too, but we lost badly to Dover-Eyota, so we feel we have improved significantly,” said coach Kelsey Didrickson. With at least another year to put it all together, she might have added.
NLS, down by seven, clips Mainstreeters on Oman’s big play
Shea Oman admitted her move in the last few seconds was risky, but worth it, given the situation.
After a timeout with 10 seconds left and the score 46-46, the New London-Spicer sophomore guard made a spin move with a behind-the-back dribble against an excellent defender, Maesyn Thiesen, lunged for an underhand layup with 4.5 seconds on the clock, got fouled and added the free shot.
“I don’t think about any moves. They just happen,” she smiled. “It was a little risky, I guess, but it worked out.”
That was the game-winner as the Wildcats rallied from a 42-35 deficit to win the state semifinal 49-46 against a longtime respected rival that had beaten them 54-37 just before Christmas.
The Wildcats and Mainstreeters formerly dueled every year in conference for many years, and then in sectionals, although this year they are not together in either for the first time, thus the state meeting.
Often one of the high-profile teams in the state tournament in the past, the Wildcats, under the state’s all-time winningest coach, Mike Dreier, entered state under the radar with six losses, not ranked in the top ten.
“I don’t know what it was but once we started sections, they were two steps faster, more aggressive, more confident than they were before,” said Dreier.
Oman said “everyone cheers louder and everyone runs faster, and that’s the way we like it,” in the tournaments.
The unseeded Wildcats (25-6) have beaten the No. 3 seed (Minnehaha Academy) and No. 2 seed at state without any notable star players; Megan Thorson is top scorer with 10 points per game. Their 2-3 zone has been a crusher for their section and state foes, though.
Thorson and Kabrie Weber scored 12 points each, with Weber swishing a 3-pointer to cap a 9-0 run that gave the Wildcats a 44-42 lead. Oman, the point guard, had 10 points. Thorson snagged 14 rebounds and Erin Tebbin 10 as NLS earned a 43-37 edge under the boards.
Thiesen scored 20 points for the No. 2 ranked Maintreeters (30-2), including a mid-court steal and layup that tied the score at 46 with 45 seconds left. Jill Klaphake was next with 10 points.
Sauk Centre shot just under 25 percent at 15-for-61, including 6-for-21 on three’s, which is a team strength but NLS’s extended zone gave them trouble.