Girls Basketball: Litch claims 6AA sub-section title
Tribune Staff Report
COLLEGEVILLE -- Fans of Litchfield and New London-Spicer girls basketball watching Tuesday's Section 6AA South sub-section final thought maybe they were in a time machine.
A meeting between the two nearly two months ago saw NLS rally from a 20-point deficit and Tuesday the Wildcats saw themselves trailing by 19 at intermission. But Litchfield held on this time around and shutout NLS in overtime to collect a 60-53 win at St. John's University and advance to the Section 6AA final on Friday.
Litchfield's reward is the school's first trip to a girls basketball section final in 19 years. Litchfield (20-8) will meet North sub-section champion Sauk Centre (24-4) on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at St. Cloud State University.
Taylor Thunstedt scored a game-high 29 points for NLS, but the Wildcats (19-9) had only two others score -- Olivia Setterberg with 15 and Amanda Radel with 9 -- while Litchfield had six players score with Greta Walsh leading the way with 18.
Litchfield, which has won 8 of its last 9 games, knew it still had to finish hard even though it owned a 39-20 lead at halftime. The Dragons eventually lost the lead when Thunstedt canned a three-pointer with just under two minutes remaining in regulation that put NLS up 51-50.
Walsh answered with a trey of her own with 2:03 left, but after nearly two scoreless minutes, Thunstedt made a basket with 17 seconds left to tie the game at 53-53.
The Dragons thought they won the game in regulation, but Walsh's basket in the lane was waved off when she was whistled for traveling.
Litchfield then owned the extra period. Bailey Koch scored 5 of her 15 points in overtime with a basket and three free throws and Walsh opened the scoring by converting a steal into a layup 1:13 into the period.
"Maybe they thought, 'here we go again,' and we were probably saying the same thing," said NLS coach Mike Dreier. "But give Litchfield credit. They got it done in overtime."
Koch also hooked 11 of the Dragons' 41 rebounds. Litchfield had a plus-10 advantage on the boards.
NLS outscored Litchfield 33-14 in the second half behind Thunstedt's 21 points, Setterberg's three baskets and Radel's two 3-pointers. But NLS was just 3-for-7 at the free throw line in the game while Litchfield was 14-for-19.
Thunstedt netted 36 points in the Wildcats' 63-57 road win over Litchfield on Jan. 14
"It was one of the most rewarding seasons I've had as a coach," said Dreier. "There were not a lot of expectations (for us), but we got to the sub-section finals and we were seconds from the section final."
Litchfield 60, NLS 53
Litchfield (20-8) 39 14 7 -- 60
NLS (19-9) 20 33 0 -- 53
LITCHFIELD - 20-53 FG (6-16 3-pt); 14-19 FT; 41 rebounds; 9 fouls ... Scoring: Greta Walsh 18, Shelbie Walsh 8, Jordan Peterson 9, Bailey Koch 15, Kelsey Fisher 6, Kjerstin Meyer 4 ... 3-point shots: G. Walsh 3, Peterson 3 ... Rebound leaders: Koch 11, Fisher 6 ... Assist leaders: S. Walsh 3 ... Steal leaders: G. Walsh 6, Meyer 4
NEW LONDON-SPICER - 21-50 FG (8-24 3-pt); 3-7 FT; 31 rebounds; 15 fouls ... Scoring: Taylor Thunstedt 29, Amanda Radel 9, Olivia Setterberg 15 ... 3-point shots: Thunstedt 5, Radel 3 ... Rebound leaders: Setterberg 9, Thunstedt 8, Megan Thorson 5 ... Assist leaders: Radel 5, Lydia Kieft 3 ... Steal leaders: Thunstedt 3