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Girls basketball: Wildcats bounce Dragons

Tribune photo by Rand Middleton New London-Spicer’s Olivia Setterberg and Litchfield’s Bailey Koch grapple for a loose ball under the Wildcats’ basket in the first half in the Section 6AA-South championship Wednesday in Collegeville.

COLLEGEVILLE — The New London-Spicer Wildcats overpowered the Litchfield Dragons in the second half to win the Section 6AA South championship 70-46 on Wednesday.

The Cats advance to Halenbeck Hall on Friday for an 8 p.m. 6AA finale where they will face Sauk Centre (26-2), which scored an impressive 64-58 overtime win against Staples-Motley in the North sub-section early game at Sexton Arena on the St. John’s campus.

The Wildcats (24-4), who are 13-1 since early January, beat their Wright County West rival for the third time.

NLS led 30-16 at halftime when Lydia Kieft swished a 17-footer from the side of the key as the buzzer sounded.

The Dragons, who finish 15-13, got five quick points checking in for the second half on a triple by Bailey Koch and a drive and free throw by Greta Walsh to claw within 8 at 32-24.

The Wildcats answered. Brianna Fredrick spotted an opening to bank a layup which got NLS going. Taylor Thunstedt and Kieft hit consecutive 3s and then Thunstedt poured in four straight baskets and a free throw mushrooming the lead to 47-24.

The rest of the way the two offenses played to a draw.

Thundstedt, the school’s all-time leading scorer with a year yet to go, ended the night with 30 points, plus 7 steals and 7 assists. Olivia Setterberg supplied 11 points and Kieft 10 points and a team-high 6 rebounds. But coach Mike Dreier got solid contributions from whomever he had on the floor, it seemed.

Litchfield didn’t lack for hustle but couldn’t match the Cats’ offensive output, especially when it came to those bonus shots from beyond the arc (NLS 8 to Litchfield’s 4).

Litchfield coach Bill Huhner, who saw his 15thh season as the head coach close out, commented: “They were far better than us tonight. There’s not much else to say, but yes, the girls hustle, just as they’ve done all year.”

Walsh, the Dragons’ fine senior guard, made some smooth dashes to the basket to finish with 15 points and 8 rebounds. Koch, a 6-1 senior forward, supplied 9 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocks. Hannah Norlin had a fine second half to finish with 8 rebounds and a pair of baskets.and 7 total points.

The Dragons had outrebounded the Wildcats the first two meetings and just barely this time (41 to 39), but the winning team Wednesday night shot 43 percent from the floor to 30 percent by the Dragons.

New London-Spicer 70, Litchfield 46

Litchfield (15-13)    16 30 — 46

NLS (24-4)    30 40 — 70

LITCHFIELD – 19-64 FG (4-21 3-pt); 4-5 FT; 41 rebounds; 12 fouls … Scoring: Greta Walsh 15, Bailey Koch 9, Tasha Stubeda 3, Kristen Klaben 2, Hannah Norlin 7, Hailey Horstmann 3, Kelsey Wattenhofer 5, Breanna Eischens 2 … 3-point shots: Stubeda 1, Koch 1, Horstmann 1, Wattenhofer 1 … Rebound leaders: Walsh 8, Norlikn 8, Koch 5, Stubeda 4, Fisher 4, Klaben 3, Besser 3 … Assist leaders: Koch 2, Stubeda 2, Fisher 2 … Steal leaders: Walsh 3, Koch 2

NEW LONDON-SPICER – 26-60 FG (8-23 3-pt); 10-13 FT; 39 rebounds; 9 fouls … Scoring: Taylor Thunstedt 30, Lydia Kieft 10, Brianna Fedrick 4, Olivia Setteberg 11, Megan Thorson 5, Reiley Ness 3, Petra Lothert 5, Ashlyn Geister 2 … 3-point shots: Thunstedt 4, Kieft 1, Ness 2, Lothert 1 … Rebound leaders: Kieft 6, Thunstedt 4, Setterberg 4, Thorson 4, Geister 4, Lothert 3 … Assist leaders: Thunstedt 7, Geister 4 … Steal leaders: Thunstedt 7, Keift 2, Fredrick 1

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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