Place leads SW United girls past Canby, 44-39

MARSHALL – Southwest United six-foot-2 guard Courtney Place carried her team for the first 35 minutes of play Saturday against Canby, scoring 23 of the Wildcats’ 36 points before fouling out with three minutes left and SWU up three. Her teammates didn’t allow her effort to go in vain.

Without the star sophomore, who drilled five 3-pointers in the game, SWU fell behind by a point with 1 minute, 12 seconds left, but got a key 3 from forward Sonja Peters and pulled out a 44-39 victory at the R/A Facility at Southwest Minnesota State University.

Place started the game connecting on three straight shots from long range and scored 14 points in the first half, putting Canby (5-6 overall) in an early hole.

“I thought we came out very flat and I thought we got outplayed today. That’s very unlike us,” Canby head coach Kevin Hansen said.

“That’s one thing we talked about was we needed to guard (Place) and we didn’t guard her. She came out and hit three 3s right away and set the tone for the game.”

Though Place was hot to start the game, her teammates contributed little to the cause. They combined for just two points, a layup by forward Kailey Wendland, in the first half and Canby took a 19-16 lead into the locker room.

Speedy Canby guard Morgan Merritt scored eight of her 14 points in the first half, including two on a pair of free throws with 3.6 seconds left after getting fouled shooting a 3.

Place started the second half as she did the first, connecting on a 3-pointer within the first 40 seconds.

Canby found success in the post over the next few minutes and went on an 8-2 run to take a 29-24 lead. Center Ricki Kallhoff scored six of those points, all in the paint, and Taylor Gorder knocked down a free-throw line jumper.

The Canby offense slowed considerably from there, as the Lancers scored just four points over the next 10 minutes. SWU (4-8) used the Canby scoring slump to catch up and eventually took the lead with 5:30 left on a short baseline jumper by Wendland, who finished with eight points.

Just over two minutes later with the Wildcats up 36-33, Place picked up her fifth foul when she caught Kallhoff going up for a shot. Kallhoff missed both of her shots from the foul line, a place where the Lancers only made eight of 18 attempts.

Merritt gave the Lancers a jolt when she picked off a pass under the basket and scored a layup in one motion to cut the lead to one with 2:29 left. The Lancers later took the lead with 1:12 left when Kallhoff went 2-for-2 from the foul line, but those were the final points the Lancers would score.

Peters drilled a 3 from the right wing nine seconds later and spilt a pair of free throws with 29.7 seconds remaining to put the Wildcats up 42-39. Merritt missed an open 3 off an inbounds play with 10 seconds left and SWU held on for the win.

“We had lots of opportunities, it just wasn’t our day,” Hansen said. “Give them credit, they came out and they beat us.

“We have to start playing Canby Lancer basketball and we really didn’t show that today. We’ve got to get better.”

The Lancers will look to snap a two-game losing skid Tuesday when they head to Hancock.