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Girls Basketball: Balanced attack leads Patriots to 5th-place finish in state

Pequot Lakes vs Montevideo in the Class 2A Consolation Smeifinals Friday, March 18.

Pequot Lakes coach on the sidelines
Brian Lempola coaches his Pequot Lakes Patriots on the sideline during the Class 2A State Tournament Thursday, March 17, 2022, at Concordia University in St. Paul.
Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro!

ST. PAUL — Trailing 25-23 at the half, the Pequot Lakes Patriots held the Montevideo Thunderhawks to 19 second-half points to win the Class 2A Consolation Finals 60-44 Friday, March 18, at Concordia University.

The win gives Pequot a fifth-place finish in the state tournament and 31 wins on the season.

“Our goal was to just get one win at state and we accomplished two and it just feels great to end the season on a win,” Pequot Lakes sophomore guard Isabel Larson said.

The Patriots started the second half on a 12-3 run to take a 35-28 lead after a Maci Martini 3-pointer.

Maci Martini led Pequot with 18 points as the Patriots had four players in double figures.

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Larson caught fire in the second half for Pequot and scored 14 of her 16 points in that time. A Larson layup gave the Patriots a 46-36 lead with eight minutes left.

“They were guarding me really tight and then at halftime we talked about ways we could get open and finish shots,” Larson said.

Lauren Schultz, who finished with 10 points, sank two free throws and a layup followed by a Larson layup to give the Patriots a 52-39 lead with 5:40 remaining.

Kelsi Martini was the fourth Patriot in double figures with 12 points. She drained two 3-pointers while her older sister Maci Martini hit five.

“The beauty of this team is they have that chemistry,” Pequot Lakes head coach Brian Lempola said. “That’s been an important piece for us and they just trust each other and they put each other in good spots to be successful.”

The Patriots shot 42% from 3 to continue their excellent shooting in the state tournament.

“They are great shooters,” Lempola said of his team. “I wasn’t so concerned about the change of venues. I was more concerned about the length of the court at times, but shooting is never a question with this crew.”

The Patriots’ zone forced Montevideo to shoot 37% from the field and 35% from 3-point. In the second half, the Thunderhawks only made six field goals on 20 attempts.

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“We play that 2-3 zone and just being active on the backside,” Lempola said. “We were keeping our feet moving and really rebounded out of it well.”

In the first half, the Patriots led by as many as nine points after Maci Martini drilled back-to-back 3-pointers and Larson hit two free throws.

The Thunderhawks ended the first half on a 13-2 run to go up two at half.

Montevideo was led by Avery Koenen who had 18 points, 12 of which came in the first half.

“Our plan was to collapse on her and bring people from different angles on her at different points and just kind of force them to hit shots,” Lempola said. “When you are forced to hit shots, the basket can get a little smaller.”

Lempola was happy with his team’s effort in playing its third game in three days and coming off a late game the night prior.

“I think that was just a gritty, gritty performance by our kids today,” Lempola said. “To have the late game last night and have to wake up and eat breakfast and then get into game mode, that can be a tough transition and they were super gritty with sore muscles.”

Lempola hopes Pequot’s finish is motivation for next season.

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“We’ve had a lot of great leadership by our senior crew and the kids are very motivated by this and I think this is going to catapult us into a really great summer and hopefully we will be back,” Lempola said.

Montevideo 25 19 — 44

Pequot Lakes 23 37 — 60

MONTEVIDEO

Teagan Emepa 5, Tenley Emepa 9, Avery Koenen 18, Keely Foley 9, Hailey Dirksen 3. FG 16-43 (37%), FT 3-7 (43%). 3-point 9-26 (35%).

PEQUOT LAKES

Isabel Larson 16, Kelsi Martini 12, Maci Martini 18, Lauren Schultz 10, Ella Kratochvil 4. FG 20-50 (40%), FT 12-19 (63%). 3-point 8-19 (42%).

Pequot Lakes 60, Montevideo 44
Key: Strong second-half defense gets Patriots fifth place in state.
Overall: PL 31-2, M 26-5.

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or conrad.engstrom@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.

Started at the Dispatch in June of 2019.
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