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Girls Basketball: Cardinals fly to M-S victory

Laker Shay Nielsen (23) puts a shot up against Staples-Motley’s Kaitlin Spar Thursday evening in the Mid-State Conference tilt. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham

First-place in the Mid-State Conference was at stake Thursday, as the visiting Staples-Motley girls’ basketball team stayed a couple of steps ahead of Detroit Lakes in a 55-42 victory.

The win pulls the Lakers off the Mid-State pedestal and back into the pack, with Staples-Motley and Crosby-Ironton, which now all have 7-2 conference records.

But the Cardinals (16-5) hold the season sweeps over the Lakers (17-6) and Crosby-Ironton, though.

The Lakers seemed out of sync for much of the game, playing with tired feet after taking part in their third game of the week.

The Cardinals’ offensive series against the stingy Laker defense was keyed by patient passing and accurate shooting, which helped them build a 31-20 halftime lead.

“It definitely looked like our kids were a step slower than Staples-Motley, maybe it was due to all of our games, but there are no excuses,” said DL head coach Mike Hoganson. “Staples-Motley was ready to play and they are an offense which moves the ball well.”

The Cardinals had eight three pointers, with the majority stifling a potential Laker rally. Senior forward Mackenzie Holst made four, her first being a deep strike to put S-M up 27-15 at the 5:54 mark in the first half.

“They knocked down their threes, they are hard to guard when they are hitting their perimeter shots,” Hoganson said.

Laker junior post Shay Nielsen made a nice dent in the Cardinals’ double-digit lead, after converting seven consecutive points to pull DL to within 38-31 midway through the second half, but a big three by junior Shelby Pihlaja shifted momentum back to the visitors.

“They were doubling Shay all night, but she was working hard for her points,” Hoganson said.

From there, the Cardinals ran a very patient offense and picked off the Lakers with pin-point accurate passes and create some positive shooting space to be able to stay ahead of the Lakers by double digits for the most of the time in the second half.

The Lakers were not able to put much pressure on the Cardinal defense, making it to the line just once, even though the game was a physical one.

Nielsen finished with 17 points, while Holst and Kaitlin Spar each had 14 points. Jaelin Beachy added eight points from her post position.

The Lakers will have three games next week to close out the regular season, starting with a road contest in Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton Tuesday.

They close out the schedule at home with Moorhead Thursday and Crosby-Ironton Friday.

The Lakers are in line for a No. 5 seed for the upcoming Section 8-3A playoffs, unless they can run the table next week and receive some help by Alexandria losing a couple. 

Staples-Motley at Detroit Lakes, Thursday, Feb. 20

Cardinals    31 24 – 55

Lakers        20 22 – 42

Scoring (2-3-ftm-fta-pts) - DL: Kyley Foster 2-0-0-0-4; Haily Jorgenson 0-1-0-0-3; Kyra Vagle 0-1-0-0-3; Shay Nielsen 8-0-1-1-17; Trisa Hutchinson 1-1-0-0-5; Grace Swenson 0-1-0-0-3; Brooke Olson 2-0-0-0-4. TOTALS: 13-4-1-1-42…SM: Jaelin Beachy 4-0-0-0-8; Mackenzie Holst 1-4-0-0-14; Mikayla Wing 1-0-0-1-2; Kaitlin Spar 4-2-0-0-14; Shelby Pihlaja 0-1-1-2-4; Grace Wolhowe 1-1-0-0-5; Kelsey Zetah 2-0-3-6-7. TOTALS: 13-8-4-9-55. 

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.