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Hancock guard Aria Walstad, right, applies defensive pressure in a game against Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa Jan. 18 in Hancock. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton

Hancock rides defense to state

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HANCOCK -- Opposing teams trying to attack Hancock's pressing defense often end up feeling like they are in quicksand. The harder they try to get out of trouble, the more trouble they get into as fatigue sets in.

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The Owls have held 18 opponents to 40-points or less this season, including three straight playoff foes.

"We have eight different presses that we use," said Hancock coach Jodi Holleman. "And we fall back into various zone defenses off of these presses. The very good teams struggle with the loose zone presses and the weaker teams struggle with the tight presses."

If that holds true, then expect Goodhue, the top-ranked team in Class A, to struggle with the Owls' loose zone press. Goodhue (27-4) and unranked Hancock (26-2) will meet in the state quarterfinals at 11a.m. today at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.

"We know (Hancock) likes to play somewhat deliberate," said Goodhue coach Josh Wieme, who has guided the Wildcats to the state tournament in each of his three seasons, including a runner-up finish last season to Barnum. "And their defense has great length, which is hard to penetrate."

Holleman said she watches how other high school and college team's defenses operate and uses certain aspects she likes from them.

"I added two different half-court zone defenses after watching a lot of college games," she said. "One zone defense that I liked was a 2-3 zone by Wayne State. Everyone is moving/jumping from side to side the entire time with their arms out. When the ball is passed to the wing, we get out there immediately and are all over the ball, preventing any type of pass into the post. We do the same thing on the baseline or at the high post."

Holleman insists that the defenses she employs cause the most problems for teams that rely on their guards for scoring because they get fatigued battling the full-court pressure. She mentioned that the Owls held three stellar guards well below their average in the playoffs so far; Hillcrest Lutheran Academy guard Taylor Brue had just one basket, Parkers Prairie standout Micaela Noga twas limited to only two field goals and Ada-Borup's top scorer, Taylor Kujava had no field goals (Kujava did make eight free throws).

"We do not always force a lot of turnovers," said Holleman, in her 14th season as coach. "But we manage to wear teams down. When they need a bucket at the end of the game, it is usually rushed or their legs are tired."

Goodhue is a team that scores inside and with mid-range jumpers, Wieme said. There is no big scoring threat on the Wildcats' team. Five players average over six points per game with Erica Tipcke, a 5-11 junior leading the team with an 11.9 scoring average. Four of the five starters are seniors.

"I feel the strength of our team is our experience and depth," said Wieme. "We have three 3-year starters and another girl who played extensively in last year's state tournament. We play nine girls, each of which brings something to the table when they're in the game, which allows uis to get very aggressive and give different looks."

Goodhue averages 59 points-per game and allows 40.8. Hancock averages 55.3 and gives up 37.4. And Goodhue averages 33 rebounds per game to Hancock's 23.

"Goodhue is a very good team," said Holleman, who has a career record of 251-101. "The have a balanced scoring attack, they crash the boards, and are an excellent at shooting free throws and at pull-up jumpers. They are a mirror image of the Owls in that they run a lot of full-court presses and fall back into various defenses."

"We just need to get out there and play Hancock style basketball.," insists Holleman. "We are the underdogs in this game, so the girls should not feel any pressure. We need to have a balanced scoring attack, make those bunny shots, and more imporatantly, make our free throws (the Owls missed 17 in the Section 6A championship against Ada-Borup)."

Before the Ada-Borup game, Holleman told the Tribune that her team would prevail if they held the xxxxx under 40 points. Final score: Hancock 40, Ada-Borup 37.

And in the state quarterfinals?

"I know that our defense will be strong no matter what," Holleman stressed. "We have a great chance of winning this game if we can keep them under 40 points."

Goodhue

STARTERS

Erica Tipcke, 5-11 junior (11.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.0 apg, 2.4 spg).

Courtney Hinsch, 5-7 senior guard (6.7 ppg, 4.,0 rpg, 4.8 apg, 3.1 spg).

Alyssa Ryan, 5-6 senior guard (3.4 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.6 spg).

Anne Lodermeier, 5-7 senior wing (7.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.4 apg, 2.1 spg)

Chanel Robert, 6-2 senior post (8.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.0 spg).

OFF THE BENCH

Mikayla, 5-7 freshman wing (9.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.4 apg, 2.8 spg).

Hancock

STARTERS

Kendra Schmidgall, 6-2 junior center (15 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.4 apg).

Illissa Koehl, 5-7 senior guard (14.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.9 apg).

Aria Walstad, 5-7 senior guard (4.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 5.6 apg).

Shae Brown, 5-6 junior guard (4.9 ppg, 2.3 apg).

Abby Ascheman, 5-9 junior forward (2.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg).

OFF THE BENCH

Courtney Grenier, 5-10 sophomore forward (10.5 ppg, 1.8 apg).

Olivia Koehl, 5-6 junior forward (1.3 ppg, 1.6 rpg) is another key reserve.

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