Area Girls Basketball: Hilltoppers outlast Patriots in section final

Second-half turnovers by Pequot Lakes led to Duluth Marshall extending a lead to the point the Patriots could not come back.

Pequot Lakes' Emma Benson (32) shoots the ball against Duluth Marshall Friday, March 6, during the Section 7-2A finals at Romano Gymnasium at the University of Minnesota Duluth campus. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

DULUTH — The high-powered Duluth Marshall Hilltoppers surged in the second half to get to state in a 79-63 win over the Pequot Lakes Patriots in the Section 7-2A finals Friday, March 6, at Romano Gymnasium on the campus of the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

“We got in a little bit of foul trouble and they went at us a little differently than they did in the first half,” Pequot Lakes head coach Katrina Moody said. “Down the stretch we definitely turned the ball over when we shouldn't have, and errors around that 12-minute mark kind of changed the game from that point on.”

Duluth Marshall enjoyed a slim 38-37 lead at half with the Patriots leading by as many as three points.

Hilltoppers guard Grace Kirk scored a game-high 33 points with 19 of them coming in the first half. Her running mate Gianna Kneepkens scored 24 with 16 of them coming the second half.



Duluth Marshall 79, Pequot Lakes 63

Key: Second-half turnovers by Pequot Lakes led to Duluth Marshall extending a lead to the point the Patriots could not come back.

Overall: PL 16-14.


“They have two really good players and we did what we could,” Moody said. “We put someone on their hip the whole time, face guarded them. Everybody was trying to help on them. If someone else was going to score on their team that would be okay.”

Pequot Lakes stuck with the Hilltoppers due to hot shooting to start the game. The Patriots shot 10-of-18 from 3-point land with Carley Chaney knocking in 5-of-6.

“We’ve had a lot of confidence here down the stretch and when you hit those 3s that’s a huge confidence booster,” Moody said. “We get it from all our girls, it’s not like a Marshall where they have one or two girls that are shooting, so that’s nice. Any one of them can knock them down.”

Chaney led the Patriots with 17 points, 12 of them coming in the second half. Maci Martini added 16 points for Pequot Lakes on 6-of-12 shooting. Emma Benson scored nine while Lola Rysavy scored all eight of her points in the first half.


The offensive rebounds Pequot Lakes grabbed in the first half also played a factor. The Patriots grabbed nine first-half offensive rebounds and turned it into 11 second-chance points.

“Offensively we moved the ball a little faster and made them play some defense,” Moody said. “We knew they would play some lazy defense, so we used that to our advantage. All the girls worked very well together and we crashed the boards and got some easy putbacks.”

In the second half, the Hilltoppers raced out to a 57-44 lead thanks to the turnovers they were able to force. The Patriots committed 17 turnovers that turned into 14 points for the Hilltoppers.

The Patriots cut the lead to 10 points twice, but could not get the margin into single digits.

Rachel Voges, Cloey Traxler, Benson and Rysavy were all seniors playing in their last game in Pequot red.

“Those seniors are class acts,” Moody said. “They are such role players for us and such leaders for us in their own individual way. We started 1-8 in the season and that’s a hard thing to come back from. They never gave up and pulled those young kids with them. I appreciate everything they’ve done.”

For more photos, go to .

Duluth Marshall 38 41 — 79
Pequot Lakes 37 26 — 63


Grace Kirk 33, Gianna Kneepkens 24, Meria Mrozik 7, Laila Monroe 8, Maritsa Harris 5. FG 28-62 (45%), FT 17-20 (85%). 3-point 6-19 (32%).

Carly Chaney 17, Kelsi Martini 6, Morgan Eckes 3, Rachel Voges 4, Maci Martini 16, Emma Benson 9, Lola Rysavy 8. FG 22-52 (42%), FT 9-16 (56%). 3-point 10-18 (56%).
CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or . Follow on Twitter at .

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