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Girls Basketball: DL scores big upset over undefeated TRF

Laker junior Shay Nielsen battles for an offensive rebound under the Thief River Falls net during Thursday night’s 70-57 win over the previously undefeated Prowlers in Ralph Anderson Gym. Thief River Falls was ranked third in the state in class 3-A. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham

The Detroit Lakes Lakers upset previously undefeated No. 3 3-A Thief River Falls 70-57 Thursday evening in a top 25 Section 8 girls basketball matchup.

The Prowlers came into the game undefeated at 16-0 with a Quality Results Formula (QRF) ranking of No. 8 in Class 3-A. The Lakers are QRF ranked No. 23 with a record of 11-4.

DL’s junior center Shay Nielsen led all scorers with 22 points. Kyley Foster (13) and Trisa Hutchinson (12) were both in double figures.

“Nielsen was strong inside tonight,” Laker head coach Mike Hoganson said. “Thief River Falls really struggled matching up with her.”

“We’re starting to play like a team, not individuals, which has been a huge factor in our last few wins” Nielsen said. “Our height has been an advantage, as well, so our guards have been getting the ball inside and hitting the perimeter shots when inside shots aren’t there.”

Kyra Vagle came off the bench to spark the Lakers, scoring 10 points. Foster was strong all over the floor.

“Kyley made smart decisions making good passes and knocking down perimeter shots,” said Hoganson.

The Lakers busted out to a 15-0 lead by limiting Prowler shooting opportunities and cashing in on the offensive end. By the half, Detroit Lakes pushed the lead to 16 points up 39-23.

The Prowlers made a run to close a 17-point lead in the second half to six points with five minutes remaining.

The Lakers answered by sinking free throws down the stretch and continuing a full 36 minutes of strong play.

“Great team victory as the whole team played hard and finished well,” Hoganson said.

The victory was the seventh straight for the Lakers heading into a boys/girls varsity doubleheader at Perham Saturday night.

Detroit Lakes gave the Prowlers their toughest test earlier this season at Thief River Falls losing by three points 54-51 on December 21.

In the nine wins since that game, the Prowlers had defeated their opponents by an average margin of victory of 24.4 points.

“We had played Thief River Falls tough earlier in the year and felt we could have won,” Hoganson said. “I believe that fueled the kids’ fire to go after this one.”

The win was big for Detroit Lakes, as Section 8 3-A is stacked this season with three teams currently ranked in the state.

The Lakers are currently the fifth seed in the section, with No. 1-3A Fergus Falls (15-0), No. 3-3-A Thief River Falls (16-1), No. 9-3-A Alexandria (10-3), and Albany (14-1), all top 15 QRF teams also, ahead of them in the standings.

The Laker girls tip-off at Perham Saturday, Feb. 1 at 6 p.m. at Prairie Wind Middle School, with the boys’ game to follow.

DL dominates Wadena

The Laker girls’ team also had a strong performance at Wadena Tuesday night, dominating the Prowlers 68-37.

“Wadena has struggled this year, but they are improved — and started the game up 5-0,” said the DL head coach.

“Our girls answered back to take a 12-5 lead — Wadena didn’t have an answer for Shay (Nielsen) inside,” Hoganson added.

Nielsen scored 19 points in the first half.

“Kyley Foster also had a strong first half, with 11 points, and making very strong decisions,” said Hoganson. “In the end we were able to play everybody on the team, (giving them) major minutes. It was a nice team victory!”

The Lakers have won 10 of their last 11 games, “because we are playing tough defense and sharing the ball,” he added.


Thief River Falls at Detroit Lakes, Thursday, Jan. 30

Detroit Lakes 70, Thief River Falls 57

Half: DL 39, TRF 23

TRF: Biermaier 21, Brekke 12, Yaggie 12 Tadych 10, Amirayan 2

DL: Nielsen 22, Foster 13, Hutchinson 12, Vagle 10, Olson 7, Jorgenson 3, Swenson 3

Robert Williams

Sports Editor at the Detroit Lakes Tribune. Williams worked prior as the Sports Editor in Perham for the Focus, a Forum Communications newspaper, from 2010-14. 

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