MINNEAPOLIS — Mattie Lueck had the best seat in the house for a change.
The Pequot Lakes senior, and lone returning starter from last year’s state team, sat for most of the first half in Tuesday’s Class 2A State quarterfinal at Williams Arena. When she returned in the second half, she put the finishing touches on Pequot’s 57-46 victory over the Zumbrota-Mazeppa Cougars.
Lueck finished with a team-high 20 points, 18 of which came in the second half as Pequot outscored Z-M 37-29 in the second frame. But it may have been what happened in the first half, with Lueck sitting on the bench with three fouls, that won the game for the Patriots.
“Mattie is a real big part of the team so it was a bit of a struggle for us when she wasn’t out there,” said Pequot’s Megan Hogen. “We really pulled together as a team and just made it happen. It’s a great feeling.”
Lueck picked up her third foul at 11:31 of the first half with Pequot holding an 11-8 lead. The Patriots then went on a 9-1 run behind four points from Kayla Miller and five from Megan Hogen. It was Hogen’s second three that gave Pequot a 15-8 lead and confidence.
“I was just happy it went in,” said Hogen. “I knew Mattie was coming back, and yes there were doubts going through our mind, but I was confident we were going to pull this out the entire time. I’m just so proud of my team right now.”
Zumbrota, which shot an abysmal 7-of-27 (26 percent) from the field, roared back by scoring the half’s final eight points.
Still with Lueck on the bench, the Cougars trailed at the half 20-17.
“We haven’t had to do that without Mattie all season,” said Pequot Lakes head coach Jon Dale. “I think that is a product of the strength of the bench we have. I was just like ‘Oh no,’ when Mattie picked up that third foul. Then she just composes everybody in the second half. I thought if we could just keep the lead and if we don’t have to use her we were going to be OK. I felt pretty comfortable.
“I just thought our bench played well.”
With Lueck back on the court, Pequot shot 11-of-22 from the field and 15-of-20 from the line. Pequot went on runs of 9-2, 8-2 and 8-2 before they secured a 53-34 edge. Miller scored 18 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field and 10-of-10 from the line. She also tallied six rebounds, four assists and three steals.
The Patriots’ defense held the Cougars to 35 percent shooting in the second half and 30 percent for the game. They also caused 12 Z-M turnovers and turned those into 13 points. Pequot held the Cougar’s all-time leading scorer to just 12 points, four points below her average.
“We got our scouting report and we just practiced for three days of just pretending she was Tatum Sheley,” said Dale. “We ran multiple defenses, but when we were in our man defense we always helped. We looked to help at all times. We practiced that at St. Kate’s for two days just getting ready for her.”
Pequot will advance to the state semifinals for the first time since 2005, when the Patriots — led by Flecia Foster and Teresa Parker — finished second.
“Even last year’s limited experience paid off for us,” said Dale. “Mattie had the most experience, but Vanessa (Lane) got in there and Rachel (Mott) got in there a lot. It wasn’t just rookies. I think that’s the big tale of what happened in the first half. With that experience and our best player out, they didn’t fold.”
Zumbrota-Mazeppa 17 29 — 46
Pequot Lakes 20 37 — 57
Geena Miller 4, Ashley Hinsch 12, Molly Lawler 4, Laura Huneke 9, Laura Brunner 15, Amber Jentsch 2. FG 17-55 (30.9 percent), FT 12-19 (63.2 percent), 3-point baskets: 0-11 (0 percent).
Mattie Lueck 20, Vanessa Lane 5, Rachel Mott 4, Megan Hogen 8, Kayla Miller 18, Carissa Maher 2. FG 18-51 (35.3 percent), FT 19-24 (79.2 percent), 3-point baskets: 2-6 (33.3 percent).
Rebounds: PL 35 (Lane 7, Miller 6), Z-M 40. Fouls: PL 16, Z-M 14. Assists: PL 12 (Miller 4), ZM 5, Turnovers: PL 9, ZM 12. Blocks: PL 2, ZM 2. Steals: PL 7 (Miller 3), ZM 3.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5856.