GIRLS BASKETBALL: Vikings steal show

MINNEAPOLIS – Goodhue did the best it could against Minneota’s Taylor Reiss. The Wildcats limited her points in the paint better than any team had all season.

In the final 15 seconds, however, Reiss found another way to send the Vikings to their second straight Class A state title game with a 45-43 win over the Wildcats.

Reiss stole an inbounds pass from Goodhue’s Kali Ryan that was intended for Shelby Hinsch as the Wildcats were setting up their final shot. Reiss took the ball the length of the court and converted a layup and was fouled by Hinsch on the play.

She missed the bonus free throw but teammate Megan Larson grabbed an offensive rebound and scored a putback to hand Minneota a 45-41 lead.

“She was bobbling the ball a little bit. So, I just went for it and, luckily, I came up with the steal,” Reiss said. “I was hoping I would make the open layup. It was a great play by Megan after I missed (the free throw) because that let us ease a little bit. That helped seal the deal. We knew that even if they made a 3-pointer we could still win.”

Meredith Watson put in a jumper as the time expired, but it was too late. The Vikings had captured the victory.

It was a stroke of revenge for the Vikings, who lost by two points (53-51) to Goodhue during the 2012-13 regular season. It was something that wasn’t lost on any of the Minneota players.

“We all kept thinking and referring back to last year’s game and we knew we didn’t want to lose to them again,” Minneota’s Emily Stienessen said.

Stienessen and Reiss led the way, offensively, with 16 points each as Stienessen shot 4 of 15 from 3-point range. While that may not be a great percentage, her 3-pointers came at key times for the Vikings

She shot 1 of 7 from long distance in the first half, when her lone 3-pointer came just before the horn to give the Vikings a 21-20 lead at halftime. In the second half, her 3’s gave Minneota leads of 27-25 with 15:04 left and 34-33 with 5 minutes to go before tying the game at 39 as 3:06 remained.

Confidence is something that Stienessen struggles with, if her shots aren’t falling, and it took head coach Chad Johnston to keep giving her the green light.

“My shots weren’t falling right away and they just kept telling me to keep shooting,” Stienessen said. “I just never gave up.”

While Stienessen’s key 3-pointers were a big part of the win, the biggest part came down to rebounding. Minneota out-rebounded the Wildcats 45-29 with Reiss collecting 11 boards, while Molly Hennen finished with seven caroms and Shelby Corbin added six rebounds.

Goodhue’s Mikayla Miller was the focus of the Vikings, defensively. She was able to get her numbers, scoring 25 points on 9 of 18 shooting, but it wasn’t quite enough. Reiss simply stole the show at the end of the game.

“We talk about great players making great plays and that’s something I expect out of her,” Johnston said of Reiss. “She did a great job.”

Goodhue put the wraps on Reiss for the majority of the game, limiting her chances as she shot just 11 times, but made seven baskets.

While she is used to being double-teamed and sometimes triple teamed, Reiss felt the Wildcats tactics provided an even bigger challenge.

“They didn’t back off of me at all,” Reiss said. “They made everyone else shoot. It was the most physical game we’ve had all year and I think we handled it well, for the most part. There were times where we didn’t handle it very well and we just had to calm down a little bit.”

In the final 30 seconds, Stienessen missed a 3-point attempt that gave the Wildcats an opportunity for the last shot before Reiss came up with the steal.

That was something that Johnston put on himself, wanting the last shot for his team.

“At the very end there, I was kicking myself for not calling the timeout,” Johnston said. “They got a chance to set one up and Taylor came up with a big play, making that steal and Megan came away with a big rebound.”

For Goodhue coach Josh Wieme, he thought his team was going to be fortunate enough to come away with the victory in a game that no team led by more than four points the entire way.

In the end, it wasn’t his team that were able to make the plays.

“I felt like we were going to get it,” Wieme said. “I thought somebody would make the play and that we’d finish it off. At some point we were trying to hold on and we just barely weren’t able to. The whole thing after the timeout was poorly designed. It’s unfortunate.”

Minneota faces Win-E-Mac in the Class A state title game at 12 p.m. today at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.

CLASS A BASKETBALL STATE TOURNAMENT

Semifinals

Friday

At Williams Arena, Minneapolis

MINNEOTA 45, GOODHUE 43

MINNEOTA (32-1 OVERALL): Molly Hennen 0-2 0-0 0, Shelby Corbin 1-13 0-0 2, Emily Stienessen 4-18 4-4 16, Taylor Reiss 7-11 2-3 16, Payton Boerboom 1-4 0-0 2, LeAnn Jerzak 0-2 2-2 2, Megan Larson 3-5 0-0 7, Michelle Jerzak 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 16-55 (30%) 8-9 (89%) 45.

GOODHUE (26-6 OVERALL): Mikayla Miller 9-18 6-7 25, Kali Ryan 0-4 0-0 0, Michelle Hadler 0-4 0-0 0, Meredith Watson 5-9 2-2 12, Shelby Hinsch 1-4 0-0 2, Megan Ryan 0-1 0-0 0, Sydney Lordermeier 2-10 0-1 4, Rachel Watson 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 17-50 (34%) 8-10 (80%) 43.

HALFTIME: Minneota 21, Goodhue 20. 3 POINT FIELD GOALS: Goodhue 1-10 (Miller 1-2, K. Ryan 0-1, Watson 0-1, M. Ryan 0-1, Lodermeier 0-1, Hadler 0-2, Hinsch 0-2); Minneota 5-27 (Stienessen 4-15, Larson 1-2, L. Jerzak 0-1, Reiss 0-1, Hennen 0-2, Corbin 0-4). REBOUNDS: Goodhue 25 (Miller 10); Minneota 45 (Reiss 11), TOTAL FOULS: (FOULED OUT): Goodhue 13 (None); Minneota 13 (None). TECHNICAL FOULS: None. ASSISTS: Goodhue 2 (K. Ryan 1, Watson 1); Minneota 5 (Hennen 4). STEALS: Goodhue 5 (Miller 4); Minneota 7 (Reiss 4). BLOCKED SHOTS: Goodhue 2 (Hinsch 1, Lordermeier 1); Minneota 6 (Reiss 3). TURNOVERS: Goodhue 11, Minneota 16