Lakers rally back in quarters to top Sartell
DETROIT LAKES - There was an uncomfortable feeling hanging over the Ralph Anderson Gym Tuesday night, as the No. 3 Detroit Lakes girls' basketball team fell into a 13-point hole to the visiting No. 6 Sartell Sabres in the Section 8-3A quarterfinals.
The Lakers' shots were not dropping through most of the first half, while the Sabres and their young forward junior Andrea Whitney's were finding their mark as Sartell built a 25-12 advantage at the four-minute mark of the first half.
But early in the second, DL found an answer to its problems and they were wearing numbers 23 and 35 -- and something called "Connecticut."
DL head coach Mike Hoganson found his formula through forwards senior Morgan Lof and sophomore Taylor Tschider, who propelled the Lakers to a comeback in the second half as the home team staved off defeat and the Sabres to pull out the 47-43 victory.
The Connecticut play DL ran features getting the ball inside to its posts and it literally saved the season.
DL will now face No. 2 Fergus Falls in the semifinals in Wadena Saturday, starting at 2:30 p.m.
"We just started focusing on the post and had a special play for it," said Lof, who finished with a team-high 16 points.
It worked, as the Lakers started putting the plan to action late in the first half, which keyed a 9-0 run to pull DL to within 25-21 at halftime.
Whitney was finding her success inside the paint, as well, as she scored almost half of the Sabres' point with 21.
But the DL defense put the clamps on the junior post midway through the second half to quell the Sabres' offensive attack.
"Whitney is a load to defend," Hoganson said. "She is so long and she rebounds well. It's kind of scary she's only a junior and how much she has improved."
The Lakers survived a 7-2 Sartell run to start the second half, putting the score at 32-27, which was halted by a three pointer by senior guard Dani Labine at the 11:58 mark.
From there, Tschider literally took over, scoring the next nine points for the Lakers, which pulled the Lakers to within one at 38-37.
"It just ended up that way," Tschider said of her consecutive point streak. "My teammates did a good job finding me."
DL finally took its first lead of the second half at the 6:19 mark on a Lof put-back for the 39-38 advantage.
It was no coincidence DL's first lead came on an offensive rebound. It seemed almost on every Laker possession, a DL player would get a hand on the ball for an offensive rebound to extend the series.
"At that point, we knew this was the playoffs and we needed to win," Lof said.
"We just started posting up stronger and played with more heart," Tschider added.
The game was back-and-forth the rest of the way, with the game tied at 43-43 with 1:14 left in regulation.
DL went with what was working and that was Tschider and Lof.
The two connected coming off a timeout, as Tschider found an open Lof just below the free throw line. A turn-around shot was money for Lof for the 45-43 lead with 52.2 seconds remaining.
Sartell, which had some problems with turnovers later in the game, turned the ball over again on a double-dribble call.
That enabled Abby Hoganson to go to the charity stripe, as the senior guard promptly sunk both for the two-possession lead, in which Sartell couldn't overcome.
"Our perimeter game was off tonight and Sartell did a great job defending it," Mike Hoganson said. "Toward the end of the first half, we started going with our Connecticut play to start going for our high-percentage shots. Taylor and Morgan carried us from there.
"Taylor was very aggressive and that's really nice to see coming from a sophomore."
Of the 14 field goals the Lakers had, 12 of them went to either Tschider or Lof.
The Lakers are 1-1 against Fergus Falls (14-10), beating the Otters Jan. 17, 47-27, and losing Feb. 10, by the score of 60-45.
"One thing we learned is we need to come out and play right away and not fall down early," Lof added about the keys to a deep run in the playoffs.
Section 8-3A playoffs: (6) Sartell at (3) Detroit Lakes, Tuesday, March 4.
Sabres 25 18 - 43
Lakers 21 26 - 47
DL: Abby Hoganson 0-1-4-4-7; Morgan Lof 6-0-4-6-16; Taylor Tschider 6-0-2-3-14; Dani Labine 1-2-0-0-8; Kayli Muckenhirn 1-0-0-0-2. Team: 14-3-10-13-47.
Sart: Morgan Haider 1-0-0-1-2; Brittany Madden 1-0-0-0-2; Haley Guetter 1-1-0-0-5; Abby Frericks 3-0-0-0-6; Allie Rengel 2-0-3-4-7; Andrea Whitney 8-0-5-9-21. Team: 16-1-8-14-43.