No. 6 Minneota girls win Camden tilt at RTR

By Alex Oey

TYLER – The Minneota girls’ basketball team got on a roll early against Russell-Tyler-Ruthton on Thursday and never looked back in the Camden Conference match-up.

“They are a team that’s doing well,” said Minneota head coach Chad Johnston. “They’ve done some good things and have some good ball players. We had to repeat our (earlier) performance, but it wasn’t going to be easy.”

“I thought if we could do a good job of getting a chance to play half-court defense, we would give ourselves a chance to be in the game,” said RTR head coach Darin Dahle. “Overall half court defense I thought we did a good job, we just didn’t give ourselves enough opportunities to do that.”

The Vikings (17-2 overall, 11-0 Camden) used their full court pressure and a hot first half to defeat the Knights (12-6, 8-3) 69-34.

Both teams were slow to start the game with RTR able to keep it close early on, not letting the Vikings run.

“They are a good team,” RTR’s Leslie Willert said. “We kinda stuck with them in the hustle part early on.”

Minneota built a small lead to start the game, but went on a 15-2 run over nearly seven minutes. The Vikings got baskets from Taylor Reiss, Molly Hennen, Emily Stienessen, Shelby Corbin, Megan Larson and Michelle Jerzak before RTR’s Allison Pochart hit a 3 to end the run with Minneota up 26-11.

The Knights had a difficult time with the press and fell victim to turnovers during the Minneota runs.

“Our press was working pretty good and our shots were falling,” Stienessen said. “We were playing tough defense.”

The Vikings continued to build on the lead, getting runs of six and eight points to build a 47-18 lead going into the half.

“Shots going in makes a lot of things look good,” Johnston said. “I couldn’t look at it and say we did things picture-perfect, but when you shoot the ball well, things look good.”

In the second half, ball control was at a premium as there were a combined six turnovers before Minneota’s Hanna Prellwitz hit the back end of a pair of free throws to make it 48-18.

“We’ve had too many games this year where we’ve done this,” Johnston said. “We played well in the half and came out sluggish in the second half.”

RTR’s Kaylie Nielsen got the first field goal of the half with 13:26 left to make it a 48-20 game.

“Both teams got a little ragged there in the second half,” Dahle said. “We were trying to get back into it, girls are flying all over the place. You get yourself out of position and the girls are going to throw it away both ways.”

Minneota went on an 11-2 run midway through the second half to build a 60-22 lead, but the Knights made a run near the end, getting baskets from Nielsen, Allison Pochardt, Shayna Possail and Willert, but the Vikings rolled to a 69-34 win.

“I thought attitude-wise it was good,” Dahle said. “It’s tough to keep that attitude up when you are getting beat, but they kept working hard, which we can take forward.”

RTR will be in action again on Saturday when the Knights face Fulda at Southwest Minnesota State, and Minneota will host Canby next Tuesday.

“We have to play every night. I don’t care who our opponent is,” Johnston said. “We have to take it game by game, take every opponent seriously and strive to get better. The ultimate goal is to be the best team you can be come tournament time.”