East Grand Forks' season ends in Class 2A state tourney
MINNEAPOLIS -- New London-Spicer guard Justine Dammermann's ability to put a stop to her shooting woes Wednesday night put a stop to East Grand Forks Senior High's remarkable season.
Dammermann's 3-pointer with 27 seconds left lifted New London-Spicer to a 57-53 win over Senior High in the Minnesota state Class AA girls basketball quarterfinals in Williams Arena.
The Green Wave, who had advanced to the state tournament for the first time in 17 years, finished the season 28-3. Senior High's three losses came by a combined 10 points.
It was an unlikely hero who finished off Senior High's final setback. Through the game's first 31 minutes, Dammermann was 0-for-6 from the field.
"She was oh-for-forever," New London-Spicer coach Mike Dreier said. "Thankfully she kept shooting."
New London-Spicer (30-1) plays the winner of Pipestone Area and Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted in Friday's semifinal at 8 p.m. at Target Center.
Senior High looked to be in control with 5 minutes, 38 seconds to play when Betsy Smith slung a quick pass underneath to Kate Warmack, who scored to give the Green Wave a 49-40 lead.
But New London-Spicer responded with a 10-0 run, sparked by another Dammermann 3-pointer -- her first basket of the game -- and seven NL-S free throws.
"I told Justine late in the game that I still had faith in her, and that I hope she has faith in herself," Dreier said. "I guess she did."
After Warmack's basket with 5:38 to go, the Green Wave wouldn't hit from the field again until Chelsey Frydenlund grabbed a steal and finished with a pull-up jumper to give Senior High a 51-50 lead with 1:58 remaining. New London-Spicer closed the game on a 7-2 run.
After Dammermann's late 3-pointer, Senior High had a chance to retake the lead but Ashley Mertens' 3-pointer from the right wing bounced off and Dammermann knocked down two free throws to ice it.
"(New London-Spicer) played a heck of a defensive game," Senior High coach Durene Frydenlund said. "We needed to create a little more. And we gave up too many boards on both ends."
Chelsey Frydenlund and Ashley Tingelstad, who battled through a knee injury suffered late in the first half, finished with 14 points each to pace the Green Wave. Warmack chipped in 12 points.
The Green Wave defensive pressure actually dictated much of the game. It helped Senior High grab leads of 18-9, 25-15 and 49-40.
"East Grand Forks is a heck of a team," Dreier said. "They play real good defense, and that had a lot to do with our lack of success on offense."
But New London-Spicer's free-throw accuracy (22-for-27) and Dammermann's clutch shooting edged the Green Wave in a back-and-forth game that saw six ties and 12 lead changes.
"You could play this same game tomorrow and probably get a different result," Dreier said.
That made for a bittersweet finish for the Green Wave.
"We had a fantastic season," coach Frydenlund said. "It's sad to see the seniors go out with a loss, but we've gotten so much out of this team. It's had an impact on the entire community and our followers. This season will be looked at as a great memory."