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Laker girl hoopsters claim at least share of Mid-State

Death and taxes are both guarantees in life.

But there is another guarantee -- at least for this year -- and that is the Detroit Lakes girls' basketball team will at least share in the Mid-State Conference championship.

The Lakers ensured their status after a 56-44 victory over visiting Pequot Lakes Thursday, raising DL's Mid-State record to 8-1 and overall mark to 14-6.

Only Crosby-Ironton can vie to tie the Lakers for the banner, though the Rangers trailing DL with a 7-2 conference mark and 19-3 overall record. But the Lakers can win the title outright with a win Thursday in Wadena-Deer Creek.

"It feels good to at least have a share of the conference championship," said DL head coach Mike Hoganson. "It's always the kid's goal at the start of the season."

After a bogged down first half, due to some good defensive play by both teams, the Lakers held a 23-19 advantage at halftime.

The game was close throughout, but the Lakers created a bit of space from their opponents, thanks to their three-point specialist, junior Dani Labine.

Her trey midway through the second half put DL up 30-25, which was immediately followed by a steal in the open court by junior point guard Abby Hoganson, who found junior forward Morgan Lof under the basket for a seven-point edge.

Another three by Labine at the 11:25 mark upped the ante to 35-27. The Lakers held on to the lead through the rest of the game, mostly by converting their free throws to keep the gap wide enough for the win.

DL went a perfect 8-8 from the charity stripe in the final 1:07 of the game, as they clung to a five-point lead, which eventually expanded to a 13-point advantage by the 33.3 mark.

"The girls hit their free throws," said Mike Hoganson of his team's 12-15 total from the line. "In the second half, our offense had more rhythm to it and an up-paced tempo. Abby (Hoganson) and Annie Klein each did a good job of pushing the ball up the court. We are a better team when we can run in the open court."

Abby Hoganson finished with a team-high 16 points, while Klein complimented her well with eight.

The Lakers also found some prosperous points in the paint from senior forward Alice Branden. She scored all her points near the basket, finishing with 10 points, before fouling out with 2:44 remaining in the game.

"It was good to see the players keep going inside and Alice had a good inside game tonight," the DL coach commented.

Lof found some success inside as well, as she also finished with 10 points on the night.

Pequot Lakes (17-7) was led by Mindy Howard and Emily Lueck, each with 12 points.

The Lakers will play Bemidji (17-4) Tuesday at home and W-DC (11-9) Thursday to wrap up the season.

"The kids are starting to believe in what we are running," Mike Hoganson added. "(Assistant coach) Aaron Swenson and I have been preaching all season to do all the little things right and you will continue winning."

Laker results

Pequot Lakes at Detroit Lakes, Thursday, Feb. 14.

Patriots 19 25 - 44

Lakers 23 33 - 56

Scoring (2-3-ftm-fta-pts)

DL: Annie Klein 1-0-6-6-8; Abby Hoganson 6-0-4-7-16; Morgan Lof 4-0-2-2-10; Alice Branden 5-0-0-0-10; Robin Hutchinson 2-0-0-0-4; Dani Labine 0-2-0-0-6. Team: 18-2-12-15-56.

PL: Chelsey Thorson 1-1-2-4-7; Madison Engen 0-0-1-4-1; Katie Finn 1-0-0-0-2; Mindy Howard 2-1-5-8-12; Mattie Lueck 2-0-1-1-5; Emily Lueck 5-0-2-2-12. Team: 11-2-11-19-44.

Mid-State Conference

Detroit Lakes 8-1, 14-6

Crosby-Ironton 7-2, 19-3

Pequot Lakes 5-4, 17-7

Wadena-DC 3-4, 11-9

Staples-Motley 3-6, 6-14

Park Rapids 0-9, 2-20.