Hayfield Girls Enter Section 1 Playoffs Undefeated
The Hayfield Vikings are the answer to a future trivia question. Who was the first team to win the first overall Gopher Conference Championship game?
East Division Champion Hayfield downed West Division title holder New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva 70-59 in New Richland.
Previous to this season the Gopher Conference did not have divisions.
Firepower is what the VIkings possessed with 7 three point baskets while the Panthers finished with 1. Hayfield did not give up a lot of open looks with NRHEG going 1 for 12 from beyond the arc while the Vikings hit 7 of 15.
Another huge difference in the game was the 26 to 7 advantage Hayfield had in bench points. They needed it too. Guard, sophmore 5'4 Kristen Watson got in some foul trouble in the very physical game.
Watson finished the game with 25 points on 8 for 13 shooting from the field, 7 of 11 at the free throw line.
Classmate 5'11 Natalie Beaver finished the game with a double-double. 18 points, 10 rebounds.
Senior 5'11 Aine Stasko had 10 points with a pair of three point baskets.
The Vikings had 17 assists on 26 field goals because they moved the ball forcing the Panthers to eventually come out of their two-three zone.
NRHEG shot 42 percent from the field for the game. Part of that might be due to four players logging every second of the game on the floor including their top scorers.
Junior 5'5 Sidney Schultz led the Panthers with 16 points on 5 of 15 shooting, 1 for 7 from three point range. She added 5 rebounds as NRHEG had 25 rebounds, Hayfield 21.
Senior 5'10 Sophie Stork added 14 points, 5 rebounds. Sophmore 5'6 Faith Nielsen finished with 12 points, 5 rebounds.
It was a packed house with a playoff atmosphere in a gym that always is loud because of it's intimate setup.
The free throw line kept the Panthers in the contest. They went 18 of 28 from the line while Hayfield was 11 of 20.
I had NRHEG with 13 turnovers (Hayfield official statistics had 12) and the Vikings with 10 miscues (official Hayfield statistics had 11).
The Vikings enjoyed a 38-28 halftime lead. The Panthers got to within 5 points (53-48) with 9:09 to go in the game but a minute later Hayfield punched their lead back up to 11 points (59-48).
Head Coach Kasey Krekling told KDHL he was proud of his team accomplishing an undefeated regular season and now they need to continue working hard to accomplish their goals.
You can check off one of those goals. Top seed in Section 1A which starts Tuesday with 3 play-in games. The Vikings (27-0) will host Thursday the winner of the #16 seed Leroy-Ostrander (4-22) versus #17 United South Central (1-23) game.
The other Tuesday play-in contests are #18 Schaeffer Academy (3-23) at #15 Alden-Conger/Glenville-Emmons (6-19). Winner goes to #2 Kingsland (17-8).
#19 Wabasha-Kellogg (no record reported) is at #14 Lyle-Pacelli (5-21). The victor heads to #3 Grand Meadow (20-6).
Thursday #4 seed Lanesboro (17-8) hosts #13 Mabel-Canton (8-18).
Kenyon-Wanamingo (11-13) is the #5 seed and gets to have #12 Southland (8-16) back in their gym. The Knights defeated the Rebels last Thursday in the Castle.
Faribault Bethlehem Academy (11-13) is seeded #9 so they go to #8 Houston (15-11) Thursday night. The winner of that contest would play Monday, February 28, 2022 in Rochester against the Hayfield Thursday game winner.
Other Thursday games include #10 Randolph (9-17) going to #7 Fillmore Central (11-13) in Harmony.
#6 Rushford-Peterson (11-15) hosts #11 Spring Grove (10-16).
Semifinal games are scheduled for Saturday, March 5, 2021 in the Mayo Civic Auditorium with the title contest Thursday, March 10, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. in the Arena.
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