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Girls Basketball: NLS fights off late run from Minnehaha Academy

New London-Spicer 5-foot-11 center Olivia Setterberg, who scored 7 of her 9 points in the second half, fires up a first-half shot defended by 6-foot-1 center Lilly Thomey of Minnehaha Academy Friday at the West Central Tribune Wild-Card Tournament in Willmar. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton

WILLMAR — The Wildcats were hit and miss at the free throw line but the Fredrick sisters combined to make 3-of-4 in the final 32 seconds, helping New London-Spicer withstand a late surge by Minnehaha Academy in the first game of the two-day West Central Tribune Wild-Card Tournament on Friday at Willmar Senior High School.

The Wildcats (5-0) edged the Redhawks 50-46 and will meet Albany, which crushed the host Cardinals 62-37, at 7:45 p.m. Saturday. NLS will be after a fourth-straight title in the 22nd edition of the girls holiday tournament.

Minnehaha, which had won five straight coming in, trailed 18-15 at half and by as much as 12 in the second half — 39-27 — at the 8-minute mark.

But fueled by a couple of threes by senior guard Olivia West sparked a Redhawks’ comeback and the Cats’ lead dwindled to 47-46 with a minute left.

With 32 seconds left sophomore guard Alyssa Fredrick hit a pair of free throws for a 49-46 bulge, and after a Minnehaha 3-point miss senior Bri Fredrick went to the line and made the first of two and a four-point spread with 15 seconds left.

The Redhawks missed another trey at the other end and finished with 8 two-pointers and just as many threes.

Taylor Thunstedt, the Wildcats’ backcourt leader, scored all 16 of her game-high 16 points in the second half, canning a pair of 3s and making 5 of 7 on the line.

Redhawks coach Josh Thurow said he learned last year that his defense had to pay more attention to the Wildcats’ quarterback.

“We’ve got a ton of respect for Taylor,” he said. “We used a box-and-one and diamond-and-one; I’m sure she’ll see that more than once this year.”

Behind Thunstedt came Bri Fredrick and Olivia Setterberg with 9 points each. Ashlyn Geister, a 6-foot-1 junior center, pulled in 13 rebounds in the Cats’ 36-25 edge in boarding.

Like last year when the 2-3 NLS zone held the Hawks to 25 points in the title game, the Wildcat trapezoid fence allowed very little inside the arc. Of their eight two-pointers only one was inside eight feet by this reporter’s count.

“It was a fun game. I’m really proud of our effort, especially late in the game,” said Turow. “We love this tournament; we’ll come back as long as they’ll have us.”

Sophomore guard Sarah Kaminski, averaging just under 20 points, got all 11 of her points post halftime. West finished with 13 points.

The Cats’ offense never fully engaged, perhaps due to a 12-day layoff.

“We had some problems shooting free throws and had trouble putting down open looks but had some big baskets in the second half,” said NLS coach Mike Dreier. “I’m pleased the way the girls came through at the end.”

NLS 50, Minnehaha 46

Minnehaha Academy (5-2)          15  31 — 46

NL-Spicer (5-0)  18  32 — 50

MINNEHAHA ACADEMY – 15-51 FG (7-25 3-pt); 6-6 FT; 25 rebounds; 19 fouls … Scoring: Lilly Thomey 5, Angela Scharf 3, Olivia West 13, Gracia Gilreath 9, Megan Thurow 3, Terra Rhoades 2, Sarah Kaminski 11 … 3-point shots: West 3, Thurow, Kaminski 3 … Rebound leaders: Kaminski 10, Thomey 7 … Assist leaders: West 3, Gilreath 3, Kaminski 4

NEW LONDON-SPICER – 18-48 FG (7-18 3-pt); 9-18 FT; 36 rebounds; 12 fouls … Scoring: Reiley Ness 3, Taylor Thunstedt 16, Alyssa Fredrick 5, Megan Thorson 4, Brianna Fredrick 9, Ashlyn Geister 4, Olivia Setterberg 9 … 3-point shots: Thunstedt 3, Ness 1, A. Fredrick 1, B. Fredrick 2    … Rebound leaders: Geister 13, B. Fredrick 4, Thorson 4, Setterberg 7 … Assist leaders: Thunstedt 7, A. Fredrick 2, Thorson 2, Geister 2 … Steal leaders: Thunstedt 2, A. Fredrick 2, B. Fredrick 2, Geister 2

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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