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Minnehaha Academy denies Hawley perfection

THE HAWLEY NUGGET GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM watches the final seconds tick away on their quest for a Class 2A state championship. Those pictured include (L to R) Tanis Lura, Ashley Ritter, Amy Stoa, Erica Aman and Laure Olson.

MINNEAPOLIS - State tournament appearance No. 7 proved not to be so lucky for the Hawley girls basketball team.

The Nuggets, making their first state appearance since 2005, were defeated for the first time this season in a 56-31 loss to Minnehaha Academy in the Minnesota Class 2A state quarterfinals.

"They did a nice job," Hawley coach Bill Gottenborg said of the Section 4 champion Redhawks. "They played very good defensively and they got their shots to drop on offense."

While Hawley came into the state playoff opener as the lone remaining unbeaten team in Class 2A and owning the top ranking of any team in the eight-school bracket, Minnehaha (22-9) was making its third straight state appearance and was coming off back-to-back victories against top-10 ranked teams Minneapolis Roosevelt and St. Croix Lutheran in the sectionals.

"It's not like we lost to a weak club," Gottenborg said.

The veteran Redhawks won the opening tip and scored the game's first basket - the first of their five 3-pointers on the night - to take a 3-0 lead 73 seconds into the game.

However, the Nuggets promptly countered to take their first - and only - lead of the night on two free throws by center Amy Stoa and a layup by guard Jessy Noreen to go on top 4-3 with 15:24 remaining in the first half.

Hawley increased its edge to 6-3, the team's largest lead of the game, on a jump shot from forward Erica Amann 30 seconds later.

From that point, however, matters began to turn Minnehaha's way.

The Redhawks took the lead for good on back-to-back 3-pointers that put the south Minneapolis team up 14-8 midway through the half before increasing its lead to as many nine points before Nuggets forward Allie Sannes hit a two-point jumper to pull her team to within 23-16 at the break.

"We were right in there at the half," Gottenborg said. "Our girls were working hard and staying with the game plan."

Hawley could not contend with Redhawks 6-foot-4 center Katelyn Adams, who owned the paint with a game-high six blocks and seven defensive rebounds.

"It wasn't very easy to score," Gottenborg said. "They were limiting us to one shot on most of our possessions."

As the final seconds ticked away with a full complement of reserves playing out what would shortly become a 28-1 season, the Section 8 champions received a warm round of applause from an appreciative fan contingent for their endeavors in the 2009-10 season before the final horn signaled the campaign had come to its conclusion.

"The storybook season came to an end," Gottenborg said. "After the dust settles, I hope the girls can look back and be happy with the year and what they were able to accomplish."

Hawley 56

Minnehaha 31

Half: MA 23, H 16.

MA (22-9): Hansen 7 3-6 18, Halstengaard 2 2-6 6, Scholl 1 6-10 8, Ballinger 1 0-0 3, Adams 4 4-6 13, West 1 0-0 2, Stienstra 2 0-2 6. Totals 18 15-30 56.

H (28-1): Olson 1 0-0 2, Noreen 3 2-2 9, Amann 6 0-0 12, Sannes 1 2-2 4, Stoa 0 2-2 2, Ritter 1- 0-0 2. Totals 12 6-6 31.

Total fouls: MA 12, H 23. Fouled out: Sannes. 3-point goals: Hansen, Ballinger, Adams, Stienstra 2, Noreen. Rebounds: MA 29 (Adams 8), H 33 (Ritter 10). Assists: MA 5 (Scholl 3), H 3 (three tied with 1). Steals: MA 9 (Hansen 3), H 0. Blocks: MA 8 (Adams 6), H 1 (Richards).