The best area girls' basketball game is scheduled for a 7:30 tip-off tonight at Pequot Lakes.
The 11-8 Pierz Pioneers are looking to avenge a one-point loss in 2001 to the Pequot Lakes Patriots and a two-point loss last year on their homecourt. Pierz coach Rich Sczublewski likes his chances, saying his players match up well with Pequot's strengths.
"Pequot's going to try to get the ball inside to (Teresa) Parker and try and get (Flecia) Foster loose," said Sczublewski.
"We have a little bit more balanced scoring inside," Sczublewski added. "(Becky) Korf has been hot the last couple of games and Kari Block is averaging right around 10 points. Then, you thrown in Allyson Kloss and our inside game has been very good."
With improved guard play, Sczublewski hopes Pierz can contain Foster. The sophomore guard is averaging 15.1 points. Last year, it was Foster's three-pointer with 30 seconds left and a steal and layup with 20 seconds left that erased a five-point Pioneers lead and set up the winning basket by Parker.
"She's going to get the ball no matter what so you just have to make her work for her points and not give her any good looks," Sczublewski said of Foster. "Her three-pointer last year was her first of the year according to (Pequot Lakes coach Bill) Larson, if you want to believe him.
"You just have to really make her work for all her points."
Larson and the Patriots (15-2) will focus on three Pioneers.
First, they want to stop Allyson Kloss who demands respect in the low post. The senior is averaging 11.3 points.
Add Korf (10.4 ppg) who can score from anywhere and Emily Stumpf (11.5) who owns the school record with seven three-pointers in a game and Pierz has an explosive offense.
"I know they have three key scorers," said Larson. "We have to keep an eye on all three. Weak-side boards is going to be a big thing for us. They put the ball up from anywhere and we have to be ready.
"Then, we have to help more than we usually do down low. We have to know where they are when they flash across the free throw line and down the lane. Kristy (Meyers) and Teresa will need to help out."
Ashley Meschke will be assigned to guard Kloss while Foster will handle Stumpf. Sczublewski likes how Stumpf has played the last month.
"She's played fabulous basketball the last seven or eight games," he said. "She's going to be a big part for us down the stretch. In the last seven games she's had six in double figures, with a low of eight, when she sprained her ankle."
Pequot is looking to secure the No. 1 seed in the South Subsection of Section 7, Class 2A. With losses to third-ranked Albany and Class 3A Detroit Lakes, Pequot is playing well. One reason is Parker' s 19.6 ppg and dominating presence in the paint.
Larson is more pleased with his team's balanced scoring attack.
"We're playing well," said Larson. "Our points are more dispersed. I'm really happy with the ball movement. We're turning the ball over less. Teams really have to work hard defensively to stop us.
"But there's a reason we have Pierz on our schedule. When you go against them you never know what you're going to see. You can have your game plan set up but it doesn't mean much because Rick is going to change things."
Larson reiterated he doesn't have to schedule Pierz, but he likes to measure his team against a quality program and see where his team is at heading into the playoffs.
Larson also said he enjoys beating Sczublewski.
"The talking has already begun," he said.
Sczublewski replied: "He's going to owe me something big. He's got the homecourt advantage so he has to give me six points. They're a quality team, but they're beatable."
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