GIRLS BASKETBALL: Wabasso uses defense to defeat Southwest Minn. Christian

MARSHALLA late charge wasn’t enough for Southwest Minnesota Christian, as the Wabasso Rabbits used clutch free throws to end Southwest Minnesota Christian’s comeback, defeating the Eagles 56-52 to claim the title as the Class A Section 3 champions.

The Rabbits led the game well into the second half before the Eagles found their spark late in the game. With nine minutes remaining and Wabasso leading 44-33, their leading scorer Chelsey Guetter went to the bench with her fourth foul.

The Eagles capitalized on Guetter’s absence, going on a 7-1 run to cut the Rabbits lead to three points.

“We were definitely nervous,” Wabasso head coach Neil Dolan said. “When we took Chelsey out we lost momentum and they made a run.”

Southwest Minnesota Christian’s Tianna Top pushed the tempo for the Eagles, scoring five unanswered points and forcing Wabasso’s Karlee Eichten to pick-up her fifth foul.

“We really gave a valiant effort especially in the second half after struggling in the first-half to find out offense,” Southwest head coach Denise Nerem said.”

SWMC trailed Wabasso 52-50 going into the final minute of the game when Morgan Frank and Kacie Rothmeier each hit two freethrows to push the Rabbits to a 56-50 lead. Top scored as time expired for the Eagles, but it wasn’t enough and the Rabbits clinched the 56-52 victory.

It was a defensive battle with both teams aiming to hold off their offensively dominated rivals. The Rabbits held the Eagles to just 21 points in the first-half.

“We were looking to play good defense,” said Dolan. “Southwest scored 95 points against Fulda so we knew had to play defense and we did a nice job of that.”

Guetter, who finished the night with 22 points, controlled the floor for the Rabbits, both in the books and has the teams leader. “She runs our team,” said Dolan. “She gets us in our offenses and defenses, without her we would be lost.”

This is the Rabbits second consecutive subsection championship, defeating Southwest in last years tournament 76-65.

“Its something that you can’t imagine coming back after winning junior year and doing it again senior year,” said Wabasso’s Chelsey Guetter. “But its even more special experiencing it with my senior teammates.”

Wabasso will compete in the section 3A championship next Thursday against defending state champions Minneota. The Rabbits handed the Minneota its only loss this season, earning a 51-49 victory in Wabasso on Febuary 17th.

The match-up will be a repeat of the 2013 championship where the Vikings began their state run after defeating Wabasso 72-46.