Medford Girls Repeat as Gopher Conference Champs
The Medford girls basketball captured the Gopher Conference championship with their Friday night 61-51 win over Blooming Prairie in Medford. The Tigers share the title with Waterville-Elysian-Morristown with both teams going 12-2 in league games, splitting their head-to-head games.
Tigers coach Mark Kubat said after the game, "We're sharing it with Waterville this year...Three weeks ago didn't have a shot at it. Things fell in our favor in the games we needed to win and beating Blooming it made it happen for us." Medford beat WEM February 7 to get themselves back into title contention.
BP beat Medford 49-41 earlier this season. Kubat said before the game that the team needed to be better defensively than the first meeting. Medford held Blooming Prairie to 17 first-half points, leading 28-17 at the break. "I thought our defense really was pretty good. Their defense is solid. They really cause problems. They do a good job of making Emma's (Kniefel) life tough. We hit the boards pretty good."
Kniefel, the Tigers all-time leading career scorer, was held to ten points, just two in the second half. Jenna Berg led Medford with 11 points, hitting three three's. Blooming Prairie coach John Bruns commented, "They got out to an eight, ten, 12 point lead in the first half and we just really could never get back into it...Jenna Berg came through with some huge shots, I don't know that she missed. She had 11 points, led them is scoring...I've known about her for years. I've coached against her since she was a fourth or fifth grader...That just makes it that much tougher. You know you've got to guard Kniefel. You know you've got to guard (Kiley) Nihart. You know you've got to guard (Katie) Dylla. And then all of a sudden you've got Jenna Berg knocking every shot she looks at down."
Bruns believes the challenging games the Blossoms played in the final week with losses to WEM and Medford will have his team battle tested for the playoffs. Megan Oswald led BP with 20 Friday night. Bobbie Bruns added 16 with 12 of those in the second half. Blooming Prairie ends the regular season 18-5 (10-4 in the Gopher Conference).
Eight players scored for Medford, who closes their regular season Monday, February 17 against Blue Earth Area for Senior Night at MHS.
Medford also scored a pair of exciting road wins this week and is the Cash Wise Foods of Owatonna and Waseca Team of the Week. Cash Wise Foods will donate a gift card to a charity in the district of the team of the week throughout the 2019-2020 school year.
The Tigers won 57-56 at Dover-Eyota Monday on Berg's late three-pointer. Medford won 56-51 at Maple River on Tuesday behind a 35-point effort by Kniefel.
The Gopher Conference just established a traveling trophy for their conference champs. The hardware resides in the trophy case outside the Medford gym. With the conference title being shared between Medford and WEM, school officials weren't sure Friday night if the trophy would stay at Medford or not.
Medford is currently the reigning boys cross country Gopher Conference champs as well. The two trophies look good side-by-side in the display case.