MOORHEAD — Jon Dale didn’t think his team was very good defensively.
Hawley would beg to differ.
The Pequot Lakes Patriots held the Southwestern Subsection’s No. 1 seed scoreless in the third overtime to return to the state tournament with Friday’s 55-52 Section 8-2A championship victory at Concordia College.
Three blocked shots by senior Mattie Lueck and two forced turnovers helped Pequot keep Hawley from scoring in the final of five frames. Lueck’s only basket of the three overtimes and a Kayla Miller free throw sealed the victory that has Pequot returning to a place even they didn’t think was possible.
“I never thought this would happen honestly, but this feels awesome,” said junior Jessica Kreitz. “Our coach thought we would. We just kept progressing throughout the year and now we got here.”
Pequot’s defense forced the Nuggets into seven turnovers in the three overtimes and held them to 21-of-60 (35 percent) from the field for the game. The Nuggets’ Drew Sannes, who led her team with 18 points, was scoreless in the three overtimes and the second part of the second half.
It was Sannes’ 12 second-half points that helped Hawley take a 34-28 lead early in the second half, but Kreitz scored all of her six during Pequot’s 9-0 run that gave the Patriots a 39-36 advantage with 8:55 remaining. With Pequot holding a 46-44 lead, Hawley’s Laure Olson, who scored all six overtime points for Hawley, hit a layin with 1:16 to send the game into its first overtimes.
The first overtime was a 2-2 affair.
Overtime No. 2 was 4-4.
The final overtime was all Pequot.
“This was unbelievable,” said Pequot head coach Jon Dale. “I don’t even know what to say about something like this. I just told the girls that we need to switch on every pick and we have to move our feet and we have to block out and hope that we get a one and done. We did not want to foul them and give them a free shot. We didn’t want that. What heart. Talk about coming along way at the last part of the year.”
Dale felt it was fitting that Lueck, his lone senior starter from last year’s state team, hit the game-winning basket.
“We said we were going to win playing our style of basketball and when she went in an hit that shot it was huge,” he said. “She’s just so phenomenal. Hopefully we get three more games with her.”
Miller finished the first half like she began it. The sophomore scored the game’s first four points to help Pequot build a 14-7 lead at the 10:31 mark. Hawley answered with a 9-0 run to grab a two-point lead. After both teams traded baskets, Miller scored the half’s final six points to hand Pequot a 24-22 halftime edge.
Of Miller’s 12 first-half points, eight were off of offensive rebounds. Lueck and Vanessa Lane each scored four points in the opening frame. Hawley, which shot just 33 percent, got seven points from Jody Noreen off the bench. Sannes added six first-half points.
“I just went for the ball on every shot and made sure I knew where the ball was going,” said Miller. “We mainly went to our go-to player Mattie for our points and we were hoping to get some transition points, which we did.”
Miller and Lueck each finished with 15 points and Lane scored 10 for Pequot.
“This is amazing,” said Miller. “This is crazy. I think I’m going deaf from all the screaming.”
Hawley 22 24 2 4
Pequot Lakes 24 22 2 4
Jessy Noreen 8, Tanis Lura 2, Jody Noreen 7, Laure Olson 13, Roni Neumann 2, Mira Ellefson 2, Drew Sannes 18. FG 21-60 (35 percent), FT 9-10 (90 percent), 3-point basket: 1-9 (11 percent).
Mattie Lueck 15, Vanessa Lane 10, Jessica Kreitz 6, Rachel Mott 3, Katie White 2, Megan Hogen 4, Kayla Miller 15. FG 25-74 (34 percent), FT 6-11 (55 percent), 3-point basket: 1-5 (20 percent).
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5856.