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Girls basketball: Wildcats defuse Chargers

Tribune photo by Tom Larson New London-Spicer senior guard Lydia Kieft, left, works the ball at the top of the key under pressure from Dassel-Cokato’s Andi Gayner during the first half of a Wright County Conference game on Senior Night in New London. The Wildcats defeated D-C 44-39.

NEW LONDON — A combined 15 points in the first half from Megan Thorson and Lydia Kieft helped New London-Spicer build up a six-point advantage at halftime Tuesday and the Wildcats never looked back as NLS won its 20th game of the season by upending Dassel-Cokato 44-39 in a Wright County Conference tilt.

The win avenged a 53-52 setback four weeks ago in Cokato as the Chargers (10-4, 16-6) got two late free throws from Andi Gayner to offset losing a 16-point lead. NLS (9-4, 20-4) has since then won 9 of its last 10 games and become the No. 9-ranked team in Class AA. The Wildcats wrap up the regular season on Thursday with a game at Hutchinson.

Taylor Thunstedt paced NLS last night with 18 points, which included a 9-for-9 performance from the free throw line in the second half. Thunstedt had 27 points in the first meeting, but Gayner was also nine points shy of her point total from four weeks ago as the NLS defense held the junior forward to 15 points.

Kieft followed with 13 points while Thorson finished with 8, all in the first half. The teams made the same amount of field goals (15), but the Chargers missed seven more shots from the field (51 to 44) and NLS made 10 foul shots to the Chargers’ 7.

Thorson grabbed a game-high 8 rebounds and Jessica Johnson another 7 for NLS while Thunstedt dished out 5 assists, pocketed 3 steals and blocked 3 shots. Olivia Setterberg also had 3 blocks and Kieft 3 steals.

NLS 44, Dassel-Cokato 39

Dassel-Cokato (10-4 16-6)    17 22 — 39

NLS (9-4 20-4)    23 21 — 44

DASSEL-COKATO – 15-51 FG (2-16 3-pt); 7-14 FT; 28 rebounds; 15 fouls … Scoring: Grace Zobel 2, Alexis Carlen 2, Anna Webster 5, Brenna Olsen 6, Kaitlyn Stemer 3, Karissa Raisanen 1, Andi Gayner 15, Alaynna Johnson 5 … 3-point shots: Webster 1, Stemer 1 … Rebound leaders: Gayner 7, Olsen 8

NEW LONDON-SPICER – 15-44 FG (4-16 3-pt); 10-14 FT; 23 rebounds; 12 fouls … Scoring: Taylor Thunstedt 18, Lydia Kieft 13, Megan Thorson 8, Petra Lothert 3, Olivia Setterberg 2 … 3-point shots: Thunstedt 1, Kieft 2, Lothert 1 … Rebound leaders: Thorson 8, Jessica Johnson 7 … Assist leaders: Thunstedt 5, Brianna Fredrick 3 … Steal leaders: Thunstedt 3, Kieft 3 … Blocks: Setterberg 3, Thunstedt 3