Created: 12/31/2012 10:42 AM KSTP.com By: Hannah Anderson
Effectively moving the ball on the perimeter and connecting on seven 3-pointers Saturday afternoon, Fulda worked its way to several commanding leads on Windom in the girls' championship game of the 11th Annual Windom Holiday Classic high school basketball tournament, earning a well-balanced 63-45 victory.
The Raiders (9-2) opened up a pair of 11-point leads late in the first half and then utilized a quick start after intermission to claim a 38-23 advantage with 15:55 remaining in the contest.
Windom, which entered the championship clash with a 5-3 record, rallied with a 7-2 run of its own over the next three minutes to slice the lead to 40-30 by the 13:02 mark. But Fulda scored six of the next seven points and the Raiders were up by margins of 12 to 19 the rest of the way.
"I am really happy with how we played," summed up 12th-year Fulda head coach Gregg Slaathaug. "Offensively, we passed the ball well and had very balanced scoring - in both our tournament games at Windom. But, even more importantly, we played great team defense and limited the shots of Windom's top scorers, which we needed to do, as the Eagles have a good team."
The Eagles, who earned early leads of 4-2 and 6-5, trailed by just two (12-10) before Fulda senior Brittney Hermeling fired in a 3-pointer from the left side at the 9:36 mark, which triggered a 13-4 burst for the Raiders.
Hermeling (13 points, seven assists, six rebounds) capped the run with another 3-pointer (assist Sariah Cheadle) nearly four minutes later and with 5:45 to play in the first half, the Raiders owned a 25-14 lead.
Hermeling, who drew the defensive assignment of guarding Windom's high-scoring Rachel Sorensen, was Fulda's catalyst in the early going, dishing off four assists in the game's first 10 minutes.
"Brittney's all-around game continues to get better and better," praised Slaathaug. "She sparked us offensively, but her defense on Sorensen - who is a very good shooter - was super."
After a nifty jumper by Windom's Kelsey Hanefeld put the brakes on Fulda's surge at the 4:47 mark, the Raiders quickly answered with a basket by junior forward Melissa Gehl on an assist from Sariah Cheadle (six rebounds, five assists, team-leading four steals) and were back up 11, 27-16.
Hanefeld, a 5-8 junior guard, converted a steal into a layup, trimming the margin to nine again.
Sorensen, a 5-7 junior guard, sank her third free throw of the first half and later gave senior forward Holly Larson a nice pass along the baseline, which Larson (eight points, eight rebounds, two steals) converted and with 29 seconds left, the Eagles had trimmed the lead to six (27-21) as they completed a 7-2 run of their own over a span of 5:16.
But, 18 seconds later, Sariah Cheadle found senior guard Amanda Schumacher open on the left side for Fulda's fourth 3-pointer of the half, giving the Raiders a 30-21 advantage at intermission.
It was Schumacher's second trey of the game, after hitting four in Friday's 51-40 Raiders' victory over Blue Earth Area in the semifinals. Schumacher paced four Fulda players in double figures in that contest, netting a team-high 14 points.
Raiders open second half with quick 8-2 run
Hermeling sank a right-side 3-pointer (Fulda's first from that side) with just five seconds off the second-half clock, giving the Raiders another double-digit lead.
Windom's Gina Hauge (eight rebounds) scored inside for the Eagles, but Fulda sophomore Courtney Tiesler - who had been close on several first-half shots - sank her first basket of the game (a 3-pointer from the left side, assist Sariah Cheadle) and then followed that up with a driving jumper on the right baseline.
Tiesler's five points extended the Raiders' lead to 38-23 with just 2:05 of the second half gone.
"That's typical of our team," Slaathaug said. "Courtney missed some good shots in the first half, but comes out and hits two nice ones to spark us in the second. Our girls all know they have the 'green light' to shoot when they're open."
Windom answered with a jumper by Jasmine Carlson, a bucket on the low block by Hanefeld (team-high 14 points, eight rebounds) and a 3-pointer by Sorensen (Windom's only trey of the game) to offset a high-low bounce pass from Rachel Cheadle to Gehl for Fulda's only basket during the Eagles' second 7-2 run of the contest.
"We had some good runs to keep the game competitive," praised second-year Windom head coach Jeff Huska of the Eagles' resiliency. "But, we could never quite get over the hump and get the score real close in the second half."
A basket by Sariah Cheadle put the Raiders back up 12 (42-30) at the 12:45 mark and her assist pass to older sister Rachel (11 points, 14 rebounds) increased the lead to 44-31.
After a Tiesler free throw, the ever-versatile Gehl (14 points, 14 rebounds) sank a long-range 2-point field goal (just inside the arc) and with 10:20 to play, the Raiders were in command, leading by 16 points, 47-31.
A rebound basket by Myah Holinka (after a missed backdoor layup on a sideline inbounds play) increased Fulda's lead to 18 and a free throw by Gehl made the score 50-31.
Sorensen (12 points) swished two free throws for the Eagles, Sami Petersen made one and Larson sank two as the Eagles stayed in contention, trailing 52-36 with 6:42 to play.
Two baskets by Larson were offset by Rachel Cheadle' putback hoop and the score was 54-40 with five minutes left.
A double-teamed Larson slipped a nifty backside pass to an open Hanefeld for a Windom basket, which sliced the gap to 12, 54-42.
But that was close as the Eagles would get, as Fulda countered another Hanefeld jumper with baskets by Rachel Cheadle (assist Hermeling), two free throws by Sariah Cheadle and a pair of free throws by Gehl to open up a 60-44 advantage with just 2:06 on the clock.
A 3-pointer by Holinka stretched the lead to 63-44 before Windom's Maitland Vollan completed the scoring with a free throw in the closing seconds.
"Fulda plays hard and is fundamentally sound," praised Huska about the Raiders. "They defended our outside shooters well and boxed out strong on the boards. I thought that we did a better job of getting the ball inside in the second half which created some scoring chances for us."
The Eagles (5-4) travel to Marshall for a Southwest Conference clash Thursday, while the Raiders host Mountain Lake Area the same evening in Red Rock Conference action.
Martin Luther wins 3rd-place game, 52-46, over Blue Earth Area
Effie Bentz scored 13 points and Catie Sherman (three 3-pointers) contributed 12 more as the Martin Luther Knights held off Blue Earth Area and won the third-place game Saturday, 52-46.
Nine players scored in the contest for BEA, which was led by Krista Hassing's 11 points.
Seven players scored for the Knights, who had a 33-26 lead at halftime.