Detroit Lakes advances to the Section 8AAA semifinals

No. 2 Lakers pull away from No. 7 St. Cloud Tech in the second half of a 67-52 playoff opening victory.

Detroit Lakes' leading scorer Alex Bettcher drives the lane against the defense of St. Cloud Tech freshman Alexis Finken during the second half of the Lakers' playoff victory at Ralph Anderson Gymnasium Thursday, March 18, 2021. Robert Williams / Tribune

No. 2 Detroit Lakes turned a four-point halftime lead to 20 points in the second half defeating No. 7 St. Cloud Tech 67-52 to advance to the Section 8AAA semifinals Thursday, March 18 at Ralph Anderson Gymnasium.

“The girls did a good job staying composed,” Laker head coach Rachel Johnson said. “There was relief and celebration tonight so we’re going to take that and roll with it.”

The Tigers came into the game with only two wins, but played tight with the Lakers in the first half.

Detroit Lakes never trailed after Alex Bettcher’s opening bucket in the paint and never allowed Tech to even tie the game.

Emma Imdieke hit a three-pointer to pull the Tigers to within six points trailing 17-11 with 6:40 left in the half. Neither team scored for two minutes until Sarah Tangen hit an answer from the arc to push the lead back to 20-11 at the 4:24 mark.


A Bettcher three at 2:42 gave DL its largest lead of the half 25-14

Tech pressed in the backcourt and sat in a zone for much of the first half allowing DL shots from long range, while trying to control the paint.

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Ava Jones works the ball to the low post as the Lakers saw plenty of full court press and multiple half-court defensive sets against St. Cloud Tech in the 8AAA quarterfinals Thursday, March 18, 2021. Robert Williams / Tribune

“We’re going to work on breaking the press more, just so everyone knows their role and talk about passing through the press instead of dribbling,” Johnson said.

The Tigers’ leading scorer Jayna Benson finished the first half off on a 7-0 scoring run by herself to create some tension in both locker rooms.

DL led by only four points, 25-21 at the break.

The Lakers opened the second half scoring nine of the first 14 points to go to the first timeout up 34-26 with 13:17 left in regulation.


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Grace Gunderson went on a seven-point scoring run at a critical point in the second half to help Detroit Lakes extend its lead and ultimately gain a section quarterfinal victory over St. Cloud Tech Thursday, March 18, 2021. Robert Williams / Tribune

Freshman forward Grace Gunderson came off the Laker bench and scored all seven of her points in a three-minute stretch to extend the lead to 41-28 with 10 minutes to play.

“Grace is someone teams have not quite figured out yet,” said Johnson. “She’s kind of our hidden gem. Defensively, she’s so long that it causes issues for teams, plus she can jump out of the gym. You add those two together and it becomes pretty lethal. On the offensive end, it takes her a dribble to get from the three-point line to the rim so that’s useful, as well.”

Gunderson’s scoring spurt helped Detroit Lakes kick the offense into gear. By the three-minute mark, Sarah Tangen extended the lead to a comfortable 20 points with a three-pointer for a 62-42 score.

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Detroit Lakes senior guard and St. Olaf basketball commit Sarah Tangen dishes the ball over the outstretched arms of St. Cloud Tech's Mattie Vought during the section quarterfinals Thursday, March 18, 2021. Robert Williams / Tribune

“It was good to see Sarah Tangen step up and seem more into herself today, having confidence and leading the girls through our offense,” said Johnson. “Sarah has become a much more in-control player. She’s really matured well. Especially, as she is moving forward into her college career, that’s nice to see. She’s really reigned it in and honed her skills.”


Tangen is a St. Olaf basketball commit.

Alex Bettcher led Detroit Lakes in what seemed like a quiet night for her early in the game. She scored 13 of her game-high 21 points in the second half.

Benson matched the effort leading the Tigers with 21 points. Imdieke was in double figures with 15.

Tangen scored a dozen of her 17 points in the final 18 minutes. Jacee Hauser added 13 points.

“I’m really proud of everyone stepping up and filling their role - they needed to,” said Johnson.

Tech (2-17) left points off the scoreboard shooting 56% from the line (17-30). The Lakers made 19 of 25 attempts (76%). DL eliminated the Tigers in the first round for the second straight season.

Detroit Lakes (12-6) will host No. No. 3 Bemidji Tuesday, March 23 in the semifinals. The Lumberjacks defeated No. 6 Sauk Rapids-Rice 78-64 .

“We're going to focus on defense,” Johnson said. “That’s been our key this year. Offensively, we’ve got a couple tweaks we’re going to make, but it will be a pretty similar game plan we’ve had all year.”


No. 1 Alexandria routed No. 8 St. Cloud Apollo 54-19 to force a matchup with No. 4 Sartell-St. Stephen. The Sabres defeated No. 5 Little Falls 53-33.

The championship game will be held at the high seed Friday, March 26.

Detroit Lakes has not reached a section final since its last state appearance in 2008-09.

The Laker girls basketball team celebrates the Section 8AAA championship after defeating Little Falls 53-45 at St. John's University Friday, March 13, 2009. File photo / Brian Wierima

Section 8AAA Girls Basketball quarterfinal

No. 2 Detroit Lakes 67, No. 7 St. Cloud Tech 52

SCT 21 31 - 52


DET 25 42 - 67

SCT - Jayna Benson 21, Emma Imdieke 15, Mattie Vought 7, Halie Christiansen 5, Alexis Finken 3, Sarah Harris 1.

DET - Alex Bettcher 21, Sarah Tangen 17, Jacee Hauser 13, Grace Gunderson 7, Abby Larson 6, Ava Jones 3.

Read more stories by Robert Williams here .

Robert Williams has been a sports editor for Forum Communications in Perham and Detroit Lakes since 2011.
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