The Pelican Rapids girls basketball team battled back from a 13-point halftime deficit to down Hawley 51-42 in the Minnesota Class 2A, Section 8 semifinals on Wednesday at Concordia’s Memorial Auditorium.
The undefeated Vikings scored just 10 points in the first half, but more than quadrupled that after the break, putting up 41.
“When I got into the locker room at halftime, they were already talking to themselves,” Pelican Rapids coach Brian Korf said. “They were telling each other what they needed to do. I just got in there and tried to help them execute a few plays. They did it, it’s all on them. They did it.”
The Vikings defense made life difficult on the Nuggets, forcing turnover after turnover and the offense scored in big spots.
“We knew we had to get stops to come back, so we made those stops,” PR’s Greta Tollefson said. “We knew what we were capable of, we just calmed down and did what we do best.”
Maddie Guler kicked off a 15-4 Vikings run that put them back in it. She made a 3-pointer and then drew a foul after a steal, knocking down 1 of 2 free throws. Abby Syverson made a 3-pointer and followed it up with a long 2 from the left corner to make it 35-33.
After two free throws by Hawley’s Paige Thompson, the Vikings followed up their 15-4 run with an 11-0 run. Guler made a go-ahead 3 from the corner with 5 minutes, 45 seconds to go to give PR a 38-35 lead. After the run, the Vikings led 44-37.
“We got enough turnovers to win,” Korf said. “We mixed it up a little in the second half. We mixed up some traps and some full-court pressure and forced some turnovers.”
Tollefson led the Vikings with 14 points, while Anna Stephenson scored 13. Guler scored 11 and Syverson scored seven with all of their points coming after the break.
“We got big shots from Abby Syverson, who came off the bench and made some big shots in the second half,” Korf said. “And Maddie Guler hit a big 3 to put us ahead. That was a big-time shot.”
The Nuggets built their first-half lead behind stifling defense and 6-foot-3 senior post Paige Thompson. Thompson matched the Vikings first-half total with 10 points of her own.
Tollefson scored six points in the first half — she was the lone Pelican Rapids player with more than two. The Nuggets created some separation with a 12-2 run over the final eight minutes of the first. Thompson and Morgan Ames made life tough on the Vikings inside.
“The girls came out with more confidence and were more aggressive in the second half than they were in the first half,” Korf said. “We were pretty hesitant and not very confident in the first half.”
The section championship game will be a meeting of Class 2A titans as the 28-0 Vikings, ranked fifth in the final statewide poll, take on third-ranked Fergus Falls at 7 p.m. Friday.
“These girls haven’t quit all season,” Korf said. “They play well together, they have great attitudes, they have great chemistry. And they like playing with each other.”
Pelican Rapids: Guler 11, Paulson 2, Stephenson 13, Tollefson 14, Paulson 4, Syverson 7.
Hawley: Steer 2, Ky. Crabtree 10, Ka. Crabtree 5, Thompson 20, Eilerson 3, Peterson 4.
Half: Hawley 23, Pelican Rapids 10.