MOORHEAD — The Hawley Nuggets shifted to attack mode in the second half Saturday afternoon at Concordia's Memorial Auditorium.
That shift in mindset helped the Nuggets overcome a six-point halftime deficit as they earned a 65-56 victory against Menahga in the Minnesota Class 2A, Section 8 girls basketball quarterfinals.
"The kids did a great job of believing, adjusting, forcing some turnovers and converting," said Hawley head coach Bill Gottenborg. "It was a good effort."
Hawley, which trailed by as many as eight points early in the second half, erupted for 39 points after halftime. Nuggets senior Paige Thompson led the charge, scoring 14 of her team-high 23 points in the second half. Sophomore guard Kylie Crabtree scored 13 of her 14 points after halftime to help complement Thompson.
"They were a great spark to the team," Gottenborg said. "They got the momentum going for us."
Hawley (22-5) plays Pelican Rapids (27-0) at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, at Concordia in the section semifinals.
Menahga took a 32-24 lead after senior Tara Hendrickson scored on a drive to the basket with 17 minutes, 46 seconds to play in the second half. Hendrickson paced the Braves with a game-high 25 points with 16 coming in the first half.
The Nuggets countered that Hendrickson basket with 14 consecutive points, surging into the lead for good. The 6-foot-3 Thompson scored seven points during that stretch, including two baskets in the paint. Junior forward Abigail Rux capped the game-changing run with a 3-pointer that gave the Nuggets a 38-32 lead with 14:00 remaining.
"We were just determined to come hungry," said Thompson, who is committed to play women's basketball at Minnesota State Moorhead next season. "We knew they were a fast team so we just wanted to make them play our game."
The Nuggets added a 9-1 run later in the second half to push their lead to 14 points. Crabtree scored the first five points during that rally, including a 3-pointer. Thompson capped the surge with a 3-point play that gave Hawley a 53-39 lead with 8:51 remaining.
"At halftime, we talked, and we said we need to keep attacking, feed the post. We had a really big height advantage," Thompson said. "We knew they were a fast team so we just wanted to make them play our game."
Menahga went nearly 13 minutes without a field goal in the second half, scoring all its points from the foul line during that stretch. The Nuggets took advantage, turning an eight-point deficit into a 14-point advantage.
"I'm very thankful that we were able to not give up at halftime and kept playing," Gottenborg said. "Offensively, we got more aggressive with the basketball and started attacking."
MHS: Pinoniemi 7, Peterson 8, T. Hendrickson 25, Pfeifer 3, Am. Lake 11, An. Lake 2.
HHS: Steer 7, Ky. Crabtree 14, Ka. Crabtree 5, Thompson 23, Rux 10, Eilertson 2, Ames 2.
Half: MHS 30, HHS 24.
Pelican Rapids 49, Crookston 44
Anna Stephenson scored nine of her game-high 17 points in the second half to help the Vikings fend off the Pirates in the section quarterfinals.
Stephenson sank 3 of 4 free throws in the final 90 seconds to help seal the victory after Crookston had cut the Pelican Rapids lead to two points.
"We kept our composure, which is good," Stephenson said. "We've been working on that all season. I think that's what helped us at the end."
The Pirates cut the lead to 46-44 after sophomore guard Hayden Winjum sank a 3-pointer with 1 minute, 45 seconds to play in the second half. Stephenson countered by making 1 of 2 foul shots with 1:26 to play. She later hit two free throws to give the Vikings a 49-44 lead with 31 seconds remaining.
"I think we can take some confidence (from this), we played on a bigger court and in front of a lot of people and we handled it very well," said Pelican Rapids head coach Brian Korf. "One thing I like about this team is they've kept their composure every game, all season."
Pelican Rapids closed the first half on a 12-2 run to take the lead for good. Stephenson capped that rally with a short bank shot with 1 second remaining in the first half, giving the Vikings a 26-19 lead heading into halftime.
"We executed some plays to make a nice run right before half, which was very good for our confidence going into halftime," Korf said.
Pelican Rapids played Hawley twice during the regular season, winning both times. The Vikings earned a 49-48 road victory against the Nuggets on Dec. 17, adding a 58-28 home win on Jan. 30.
"You can't let any of the previous games dictate the next game," Stephenson said. "You have to look at it as a whole separate game, like you've never played them before."
CHS: Hal. Winjum 4, Boyle 5, Hay. Winjum 10, Theis 12, Cwikla 13.
PR: Guler 2, C. Paulson 4, Stephenson 17, Tollefson 14, R. Paulson 10, Syverson 2.
Half: PR 26, CHS 19.