It’s time for the rubber match.
For the third straight season the Section 8-2A championship will belong to either the Pequot Lakes Patriots or Hawley Nuggets. Those teams will battle once again for the chance to advance to the 2A state tournament 7 p.m. Friday at Concordia College in Moorhead.
On March 9, 2010, the Nuggets eliminated Pequot Lakes 59-44 in the subsection final. The Nuggets later advanced to state.
Last year, it was Pequot’s turn to bounce Hawley from the playoffs with a 73-48 victory in the subsection title game. Pequot went on to win the section and advance to the state tournament.
A few of the same players from those first two meetings are still on the rosters.
Hawley’s Drew Sannes will be one of the keys for Pequot’s defense. Sannes, a 6-foot-2 senior, is leading the team with 11 points and seven rebounds a game. Jessy Noreen is next with 10 points a game and Laure Olson, who also leads the team in assists and steals, is averaging nine points.
“They are a lot like Crosby in that they play the same style of basketball,” said Pequot Lakes head coach Jon Dale. “They are very patient offensively and they move the ball around and wait until you break down on defense. We’re hoping to get ahead of them.
“We will definitely try to play our style of basketball. We want to play a more up and down style and force the tempo and hopefully get an early lead. Then we’ll step up our defense.”
While defense has been a weakness for Pequot, it’s the strength of Hawley. The Nuggets allow just 35 points a game — a section best. However, they only average 48.3 points a game compared to Pequot’s 65.4.
“They like to play offensive basketball,” said Hawley head coach Bill Gottenborg. “I expect to see fast-break offense and an aggressive defense. They’re a well-coached team and they are a good scoring offense.
“Our team really likes to hang its hat on our defense. We play great team defense and take our time on offense. We do like to work the ball around for a good shot.”
Gottenborg said his team has the ability to play any style of basketball. They’re capable of scoring many points. They topped Frazee 72-28 and reached 60 points six other times, but he said they would prefer a more patient game. Hawley beat Detroit Lakes 33-30 on Feb. 23.
“I think the girls are really ready to play,” said Dale. “We watched Hawley play Crookston and they only won by two points. Hawley lost to Perham and we beat Perham. They only beat (Detroit Lakes) by three and we beat Detroit Lakes the second time around. The girls aren’t intimidated or anything. We’ll just show up and try and play our game.”
Lately, much of Pequot’s game has run through senior Mattie Lueck. The only player to have played in the last two contests against Hawley scored 27 points against Crosby-Ironton on Tuesday in the Northeastern Subsection championship game. Gottenborg said his team will be aware of her. Dale hopes his other players are ready to step up.
“They will double- and sometimes triple-team Mattie, but she is a good passer,” said Dale. “Everyone has to step up. Whose ever person leaves to double Mattie that person needs to be ready to knock down a shot or dribble penetrate. The other four girls can’t be observers and just stand around. They all need to be involved in this game.
“I have a lot of other girls that can score points, but they’ll need to step up (Friday) night.”
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5856.