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NLS girls third in Class AA

ST. PAUL -- The New London-Spicer girls basketball team bounced back in a big way on Saturday.

After an offensively punchless 46-31 loss in the semifinals, the Wildcats' their stride to conquer Jordan 67-53 at Concordia University on Saturday afternoon for the Class AA third-place trophy.

The difference statistically in the 15-point loss to Howard Lake-Waverly/Winsted at Target Center Friday night and the reawakening at the Gangelhoff Center came along two lines.

The three-point line: Against the Lakers' clinging one-to-one defense, the Wildcats took five 3-point shots and made one in the semis. Against the Jaguars, NLS made 9-of-21 chances from beyond the aec.

The free-throw line: 6-of-14 vs. HLWW compared to 26-of-36 made on Saturday.

The Wildcats finished the season 31-2. The third-place hardware goes in the trophy case at New London along two championship and five state runner-up awards.

"This was a remarkable season," said NLS coach Mike Dreier. "After not playing so well in the second half against Howard Lake, the girls wanted to prove they could play better than they did the night before."

Jordan, the 2008 runner-up to Albany and ranked No. 1 this year, finishes 27-4. Largely overlooked Caledonia (31-0) dropped the Jaguars into the third-place bracket 71-59 on Friday.

Caledonia then went on to beat HLWW to finish the season as the state's only undefeated. Jordan's only losses previous to state were to Minneapolis South and Centennial, the two teams in the Class AAAA final.

The Wildcats bolted to a 7-2 lead against Jordan on inside baskets by Brianna Jacobson and Karli Wendlandt and then by Justine Dammermann, the first of her three treys. That was the opposite of a day earlier when they trailed HLW 10-2 out of the gate.

Jordan responded behind the play of All-Stater Brittany Chambers and Leah Dietel. The Jaguars went in front briefly 9-7 and again 11-10 but three-pointers by Dammermann and then Cassie Ziemer provided NLS stayed a lead it never again would relinquish.

Michelle O'Malley hit a trey that pulled the Jaguars to within 28-25 with 1:30 left in the half. But the Wildcats, buoyed by a three-pointer and two free throws from Ziemer, finished out the half with a 6-2 spurt for a 34-27 advantage.

Jordan got within three points twice, the last at 41-38 on a lay-up by the 6-1 Dietel, who would finished with a game-high 23 points plus eight rebounds.

But with just under 10 minutes left, NLS went to its bread-and-butter, the three-pointer. This time it was Taylor Thompsen hitting one of her two bonus buckets for a 44-38 spread.

Next it was Brogen Lothert, off the bench, draining a three-pointer, one of only two shots she took, for a 47-40 lead. Kelsey Cors sank two free throws for a 52-43 gap at 4:30. Chambers, who has scored over 2,500 points in her high-school career, hit a three-pointer but the senior guard whose next stop is Kansas State, was just 1-of-7 from and arc and 4-of-17 overall on field goal attempts.

The NLS made their free throws down the stretch. Dammermann canned 12-of-14 from the charity stripe. The junior guard was 8-for-8 in the quarterfinal win over East Grand Forks but didn't get to the line in the semifinals guarded by Lakers standout Katie Pettit.

Senior Michele Hanson had a huge game in her finale. The 5-9 forward made 6-of-8 at the line, 2-of-4 field-goal attempts, handed out three assists and gathered a team-high 10 rebounds.

Dammermann finished with 21 points, Ziemer 11 and Jacobson seven, plus six rebounds.

Chambers, whose state tournament game-record 47 points was tied Saturday night by Taylor Hill of Minneapolis South, got 11 points in her final game. She and Dietel were teammates on two Jordan teams that won state volleyball titles. They also helped Jordan to a third place finish in the 2007 basketball tournament as well as second-place last year.

Cors, Hanson and Jacobson will graduate from this squad which earlier won the WildCard Tournament, West Central North Conference, the North-South playoff game and the Section 6AA championship.

NLS 67, Jordan 53

Jordan (27-4).....................27 26 -- 53

NL-Spicer (31-2)................34 33 -- 67

JORDAN - 20-55 FG (4-21 3-pt); 9-18 FT; 31 rebounds; 26 fouls ... Scoring: Michelle O'Malley 6, Brittany Chambers 11, Ashley Hartman 3, Leah Dietel 23, Emily Clark 2, Kelli Buesgens 2, Kelsey Chambers 4, Nora Hamner 2 ... 3-point shots: O'Malley 1, B.Chambers 1, Hartman 1, Dietel 1 ... Rebound leaders: Dietel 8, Clark 8 ... Assist leaders: O'Malley 3, B.Chambers 3 ... Steal leader: B.Chambers 3 ... Blocks: Dietel 2

NEW LONDON-SPICER - 16-36 FG (9-21 3-pt); 26-36 FT; 31 rebounds; 18 fouls ... Scoring: Taylor Thompsen 6, Justine Dammermann 21, Cassie Ziemer 11, Karli Wendlandt 4, Brianna Jacobson 6, Kelsey Cors 4, Amanda Radel 0, Brogen Lothert 3, Maddy Cordes 0, Marin Setterberg 0, Michele Hanson 8, Lauren Bennewitz 0, Allison Ruter 0, Anna Lindquist 0, Abbey Knisely 2 ... 3-point shots: Dammermann 3, Ziemer 3, Thompsen 2, Lothert 1 ... Rebound leaders: Hanson 8, Jacobson 7 ... Assist leaders: Thompsen 3, Dammermann 3, Hanson 3 ... Steal leaders: Dammermann 2 ... Blocks: Jacobson 2, Knisely 2