Defense Holds Until Shots Fall for Northfield at State Tourney
The Northfield girls' basketball team advanced to the state AAA semifinals with a 49-44 victory over Big Nine Conference rival Mankato West at Williams Arena Wednesday. The No. 2 seeded Raiders will play Grand Rapids at 2PM Thursday at Target Center on KDHL AM 920. The unseeded Thunderhawks upset No. 3 seed Holy Angels 75-60.
Northfield (26-3) limited West to 13 first half points and held the Scarlets to 31-percent shooting for the game. The Raiders led 18-13 at the break while struggling with their shooting as well, but heated up in the second half and built a 15-point lead before holding off a late charge by West (21-8) to earn the win. Northfield shot 50-percent in the second half and led 42-27 with four minutes to go. The lead was 48-38 with just over a minute to go when West went on a 6-0 run to close to within 48-44 with 18 seconds left.
Annika Hoff led Northfield with 13 points, nine rebounds and three of her team's seven blocked shots. Rachel Kelly and Grace Touchette each scored nine. Touchette added five assists, three rebounds, two blocks and two steals. The Raiders shot 14-21 at the free throw line and outscored West in the paint 26-16. The win was the third of the season over the Scarlets for the Big Nine champion Raiders.
Northfield never trailed. Touchette completed a three-point play early. West score their first basket about three minutes into the game and the score remained 3-2 for several minutes. Northfield was 6-for-22 from the floor in the first half, but shot 10-for-20 in the second. West went 6-for-21 in the first half and 10-for-30 in the second.
Robbinsdale Cooper and Willmar will meet in the noon semifinal at Target Center. The winners play in the state championship game Saturday in downtown Minneapolis. The losers will battle for third place at Concordia-St. Paul.