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NLS semifinal foe riding 17-game winning streak

Cassie Ziemer, right, of New London-Spicer pulls down an offensive rebound in the first half of their Class AA state quarterfinal victory over East Grand Forks Wednesday at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. Looking on is Brianna Jacobson. (Tribune photo by Rand Middleton)

MINNEAPOLIS -- Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted won its first-ever state tournament game on Wednesday in the Lakers' second appearance.

The Lakers beat Pipestone (21-6) 42-37 in their quarterfinal game which followed the New London-Spicer 57-53 victory over East Grand Forks at Williams Arena.

The Lakers (28-3) and the Wildcats (30-1) move to Target Center today for an 8 p.m. tipoff in the Class AA semifinals.

The winner will face either Jordan (27-2) or Caledonia (29-0) at 2 p.m. Saturday in the championship.

The Lakers won Section 5AA, smashing Eden Valley-Watkins 51-31, a win that easily made up for two of its three losses in the regular season (the other was to Jordan).

HLWW lost to Crookston in last year's state quarterfinals.

The Lakers' 28 wins and 17-game win streak are both school records.

HLWW counts on 5-6 senior guard Katie Pettit, a 2,000-point scorer, along with 5-9 junior forward Ellie Wessling. Each averages 17 points per game. Wessling is the top rebounder (8 rpg), while Pettit has 139 steals.

Senior Christina Gruehnager provides the size for Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted. She's a 6-2 center who averages seven points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

Lakers' head coach Jason Kuehn used a seven-player rotation in the quarterfinals, while New London-Spicer coach Mike Dreier deployed eight players.

Justine Dammermann (32 minutes), Cassie Zie-mer (34) and Taylor Thompsen (27) were the workhorses for the Wildcats on the Gophers' home court.

Dammermann was just 2 of 8 from the floor but both were three-pointers and the second was the game-winner. She made 8 of 8 at the free-throw line.

Ziemer added 11 points and three steals and Thompsen four steals and eight points. Six players scored from six to 14 points in the Wildcats' typically balanced offense.