Defensive Gem Leads Owatonna to Big Win
It could be said Taylor Schlauderaff played bigger than she is during Friday's 52-35 victory at Rochester John Marshall. The 5-foot-4 junior was tasked with guarding 6-foot-2 future Indiana Hoosier Lilly Meister. She wasn't expected do it all on her own.
Huskies coach Lindsey Hugstad-Vaa said afterward, "She's feisty. Her job was to face-guard Lilly and really pressure her and not let her get the ball and did a wonderful job. We had help by Lexi (Mendenhall) or Audrey (Simon) or Sarah (Kingland) in the paint. It was just good to see how tenacious she was. She got into Meister's head. It was really good to see how someone small can have a really big heart and play really hard."
Meister fouled out with 3:03 remaining in the game. She scored 12 points, but had just two field goals for the game. In fact, the Huskies held the Rockets without a field goal for the first seven minutes of the second half.
Meister's four free throws early in the second half pulled the Rockets within 25-22. Owatonna then went on a 12-2 run and led by double digits the rest of the night. OHS closed the first half with a 6-0 run for a 23-18 advantage.
Hugstad-Vaa added, "The girls played so well, and just super proud of how tough defensively they played. And how well together on offense they moved the ball, got open looks, just how tough they played the loose balls, the offensive rebounds. It just really showed how much we wanted this game. And the girls earned it."
Kingland scored 20 points for the second straight game. Mendenhall added 12. Holly Buytaert scored eight and Ari Shornock chipped in six.
The win also keeps alive a chance for a home playoff game for Owatonna (6-8). The top two seeds are secure for Farmington and Rochester Mayo. Things are fairly wide open after that. OHS split with JM this season, "But the closest games to sections we beat them. We'll just have to see how the other coaches vote us. And really how we finish the season for our QRF and how they finish out and how we finish out and how the coaches look at that for the rankings."
OHS hosts Northfield Monday, Red Wing Thursday, and goes to Mankato East Saturday, March 13. Playoffs begins Tuesday, March 16.
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