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NLS ousted in final by Sauk Centre

New London-Spicer's Cassie Ziemer, center, heads for the basket in the second half as Megan Rieland, left, of Sauk Centre closes in at Sexton Arena on the St. John's University campus during the Section 6AA East Division final on Tuesday in Collegeville. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton1 / 2
Taylor Thompsen, left, and Justine Dammermann, right, of New London-Spicer defend Sauk Centre's Kali Peschel, center, in the second half Tuesday in Collegeville. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton2 / 2

COLLEGEVILLE - Maren Greenwaldt drained four 3-pointers on the way to 18 points and Kali Peschel added 17 points as Sauk Centre ambushed New London-Spicer 45-32 for the Section 6AA-East girls basketball title Tuesday night at St. John's University.

Greenwaldt and Peschel alone outpointed the Wildcats' offense, which made 13-of-44 shots (29.5 percent) and coughed up the ball 13 times.

This was the rubber game of three meetings between the West Central Conference North co-champions and the one that mattered most.

NLS upended the Mainstreeters 45-41 in New London on Feb. 23, Sauk Centre's first loss after 23 wins to start the season.

"We had 13 fewer turnovers in that game and took nine more shots," said NLS coach Mike Dreier. "We had to shoot well tonight and we didn't. We were ready. When we had some chances (to get back in the game) in the second half we couldn't do it. That happens."

The No. 1-ranked Wildcats (25-3) led only once, 3-2, on Justine Dammermann's trey at 15:17. It was a good start, but NLS would sink only one more three-pointer and trailed 23-17 at halftime.

Out of the locker room, Karli Wendlandt, the Wildcats' senior forward, busted inside for a pair of baskets to close the gap to two points, 23-21. But Peschel, a 6-foot sophomore guard, answered with three straight baskets on equally aggressive moves to pull ahead 30-21. Greenwaldt drained a three-pointer for a 10-point lead.

The Wildcats, who were seeded behind Sauk Centre in the sub-section, never got closer than eight points the rest of the way.

Long-range shooters Taylor Thompsen, Dammermann and Cassie Ziemer got few good looks from beyond the arc.

"We just couldn't get any shots to fall," said Thompsen. "They pushed our wings out, all three of us. I think they cranked up their defense, denied us passes. They were aggressive."

Peschel said the Mainstreeters were confident they could win the third meeting.

"We knew we had to watch their height inside and box out and that we had to come out mentally tough," said Peschel.

Sauk Centre returned four starters from the squad that lost to the Wildcats at this same juncture a year ago on this court, 51-29. NLS went on to place third at the state tournament.

Wendlandt finished with 12 points, Abbey Knisely and Dammermann had seven each. Ziemer and Wendlandt each grabbed seven rebounds.

NLS got to the line just seven times and made four.

Sauk Centre also won the first meeting on Jan. 19 63-58.

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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