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Laker girls advance to Section 8-3A title game

Laker senior post Morgan Lof attempts a shot during the Section 8-3A semifinal game against Fergus Falls. (Steve Schultz/Wadena Pioneer Journal)

It wasn't broke, so the Detroit Lakes girls' basketball team didn't fix it.

The Lakers used a mirror-imaged game plan from their Section 8-3A quarterfinal victory over Sartell against No. 2 Fergus Falls Saturday to help in a 52-40 victory in the semifinals Saturday in Wadena.

The win ensures the No. 3 Lakers (15-10) their third-consecutive berth in the section championship, which will be played Friday against No. 1 seeded Little Falls (18-9) at St. John's University beginning at 7 p.m.

The trio of keys which worked against the Sabres in the quarterfinals, were the same ones which was effective against the Otters -- that being a stingy defense, rebounding and the inside duo of senior Morgan Lof and sophomore Taylor Tschider.

"The kids did a nice job of executing the plan defensively," said DL head coach Mike Hoganson. "The biggest key was rebounding."

The Lakers were badly outrebounded in the two teams meeting in Fergus Falls Feb. 10, by a 40-16 margin which resulted in a 60-45 loss.

This time around, DL turned the tables, cleaning the glass by a tune of a 30-20 advantage over Fergus Falls.

"The kids took it to heart (to rebound)," Hoganson said. "We played more man-to-man defense, so that person assigned to a player could box out. And it was also effort which probably was the biggest thing."

The Laker's defense also held Fergus Falls to just eight two-point field goals in the game. Otter senior guard Stephanie Olson did the most damage with her five three-point field goals to finish with 15 points, but the Lakers controlled the paint and the perimeter for most of the game.

The Lakers also went back to their inside game to Tschider and Lof, who once again led DL in scoring with a combined 27 points -- most from within the safe confides of the lane.

"Fergus Falls did a good job defending our perimeter, so we went inside to Morgan and Taylor," the DL coach said. "We followed a lot of the same game plan offensively than we did against Sartell."

The Lakers led by just two points at halftime 28-26, but went on a big run to start the second half to extend that to a 14-point margin with eight minutes left.

The majority of the run's points came from high-percentage shots by the DL posts.

"The girls also kept their turnovers to under 10 for the game, so they took care of the ball," Hoganson said.

Senior guard Dani Labine did keep the Fergus Falls' defense honest from the outside by netting 11 points, while Tschider led the way with 14 and Lof with 13.

Senior Robin Hutchinson also produced eight points.

Otter senior post Ashley Heintzelman finished with 10 points.

The Lakers will be making their third-straight trip to the Section 8-3A championship, which included a win over Perham two years ago and a close loss to Fergus Falls in last year's title tilt.

DL will be the underdog to the Little Falls team, which has a very-balanced lineup.

"They have a big six-foot post who is strong and they have another strong forward -- who is a sophomore -- coming off the bench," Hoganson said. "They have good guard play, as well. They just have a solid team and don't turn the ball over. They also play defense well."

The winner of Section 8-3A will advance to the Class 3A state playoffs, which will seed the top four seeds.

The opening rounds of the Class 3A tournament will be held at Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota campus, with the semifinals and finals being played in the Target Center in Minneapolis March 18-21.

Laker results

Section 8-3A semifinals: (2) Fergus Falls vs. (3) Detroit Lakes in Wadena, Saturday, March 7.

Lakers 28 24 - 52

Otters 26 14 - 40

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

DL: Abby Hoganson 1-0-0-0-2; Dana Bentley 0-0-0-1-0; Morgan Lof 6-0-1-2-13; Taylor Tschider 6-0-2-2-14; Robin Hutchinson 2-1-1-2-8; Dani Labine 3-1-2-5-11; Kayli Muckenhirn 2-0-0-0-4. Team: 20-2-5-9-52.

FF: N. Clouse 1-0-0-0-2; S. Olson 0-5-0-0-15; A. Heintzelman 4-0-2-2-10; W. Moore 1-2-0-0-8; M. Monke 2-0-1-2-5. Team: 8-7-3-4-40.