Northfield Girls Section Repeat Thwarted by Austin
The Northfield Raiders came a game short of their goal to return to the Minnesota Girls State High School Class 3A Tournament Friday. The #4 seed Austin Packers defeated Northfield 62-50 after upsetting the state's top ranked and top seed Red Wing in the Section 1 Class 3A Tournament last Saturday.
Northfield committed 18 turnovers, 12 in the first half and trailed 32-22 at the half. They did cut the lead to five midway through the second half but had to foul late and the Packers are very good at the free throw line. Austin was 25 of 33 from the line while Northfield was 7 of 10. The Packers were simply the quicker team getting to loose balls and rebounds a step ahead of the Raiders.
Two statistics stood out in the game. Austin scored 23 points off turnovers to Northfield's 6 and had the 25-7 advantage at the free throw line.
Senior Rachel Kelly and sophomore Annika Richardson were the only two players to score in the second half for Northfield. Kelly finished with 21 points and Richardson 14. Kelly simply didn't get enough touches in the game due to all the turnovers.
Raiders Head Coach Tony Mathison was spot on before the game when he told KDHL his team had to take care of the ball to win. The two teams split during the regular season with each team winning on their home floor.
Austin Head Coach Eric Zoske was quoted in the Rochester Post Bulletin saying his team should have received a higher seed and they were using that has motivation. It obviously worked. The Packers knocked off top ranked and top seed Red Wing in the semifinals Saturday before their win Friday night over Northfield.
Austin senior post Kyra Walters did a terrific job against Kelly. Nearly matching her point total with 17 of her own. Junior Colie Justice also had 17 points and was 9 of 10 from the charity stripe.
The Packers enter the State Class 3A Girls Basketball Tournament with a record of 20-8. Northfield ends their season 17-12.
Austin was rated most of the season but not included in the latest Minnesota Basketball News rankings. The Packers are the only team not ranked in the Class 3A Tournament.
There were 7 seniors on this year's Raiders team who enjoyed playing in the big dance last season. Northfield made it to the title game last year before succumbing to Robbinsdale Cooper in the title game. Ironically Austin will open the tournament against the #5 ranked Cooper team on Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. at the Maturi Pavilion on the University of Minnesota campus.
The seven Northfield seniors are Rachel Kelly, Madelyn Hessian, Nora Lehmkuhl, Anika Guggisberg, Isabele Hessian, Lisette Salgado and Yu Yu Ose.