Defense ready to make state-ment
WILLMAR -- Eight women's basketball teams arrived in Willmar last night for the MCCC state tournament which starts today at noon and will crown a champion Sunday.
The top-seeded teams are Itasca Community College (20-5) out of the North Division and Minneapolis Technical and Community College (15-10) out of the South. Ridgewater College (17-6), the host team, tied with the Marauders for the South title but lost a coin flip to decide the top seed.
The Lady Warriors meet Rainy River (No. 3 North) at 6 p.m. The teams met Dec. 16 in Brainerd with the Lady Warriors prevailing 64-54. The Voyageurs come in as the team with the highest scoring average (74.1 ppg). Conversely, Ridgewater and Hibbing Community College have the lowest points against (61 ppg).
"This team is better defensively than any team I've had," said Ridgewater head coach Carrie Ogdahl, who is in her 11th season.
The team banks on its depth. Ogdahl will use 11 players, a luxury compared to her 2001 national tournament team which had only three reserves. It's also athletic: eight of the 11 players were on the NJCAA Division III runner-up in volleyball.
Ogdahl sees no competitive fatigue in these young women who have practiced and played without let up since early August.
"It's a whole different sport," said Ogdahl, "and this is the fun time now; I draw energy from them because they've been playing so well lately and I hope their feeding off me, too."
Ogdahl is expecting her third child in mid-March. Her concession to pregnancy is coaching from a folding chair most of the game.
No team that's smart looks by the first round. Every team wants to reach the semifinals which greatly enhance the odds of reaching a region tournament. The top finishing North team goes to Region 13B to play the Wisconsin champion. The top two South teams will face off in Region 13A with the winner in each progressing to the NJCAA Division III Tournament in Utica, N.Y., March 17-19.
Itasca Vikings (11-1, 20-5) Leaders: Tarah Geisler 18.3 ppg, Kari Virkus 17.3 ppg, 14.4 rpg; Joslin Geisler 2.6 spg, 6.3 apg; Amy Fiala 35 three-pointers, Cary Zimmer 2.3 spg.
Mesabi Range Lady Norse (10-2, 18-8) Leaders: Jenna Norman 13.4 ppg, 9.4 rpg, Ashley St. Arnold 12.0 ppg, Breann Stottler 4.1 apg; Sara Oliver 30 three-pointers.
Rainy River Voyageurs (8-4, 17-8) Leaders: Michelle Cheney 15.7 ppg, 11.2 rpg; Tiffany Ward 12.4 ppg, Randi Cool 5.4 spg, Lindsey Roppe 3.2 spg.
Hibbing Cardinals (5-7, 7-17) Leaders: Steph Morrisette 16.7 ppg, Kelly Ramsdell 8.6 rpg, Lacy Clark 3.5 spg, 6.6 spg.
Minneapolis Marauders: Gabriella Gustafson 20.9 ppg, Huldah Omesa 13.4 ppg, 9.0 ppg, Lakita Davis 10.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg; Jayme Young 2.0 spg, 2.2 apg.
Ridgewater Lady Warriors: Terra Billiet 13.5 ppg, 9.4 rpg; Jamie Munson 11.8 ppg, 6 rpg; Jenny Cunningham 7.0 ppg, 2.3 spg; Kayla Karnes 6.2 ppg, 3.4 apg, Katie Johnson 7.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg; Sarah Primus 4.2 rpg, 4.8 ppg; Ashley Olson 6.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg.
Rochester Yellowjackets (6-4, 16-10) Leaders: Rebekah Fitzgerald 20.1 ppg, 9.8 rpg; Brittany Gladis 15.0, 9.8 rpg; Jenna Maggert 1.8 spg, 3.8 apg.
Minnesota West Bluejays (5-5, 12-14) Leaders: Krista Beek 10.5 ppg, Amanda Nash 38 three-pointers.