The Ridgewater Warriors women are sitting on top of the basketball world.
At least in the world that revolves around the Minnesota Community College Conference as the Warriors defeated the Rochester Yellowjackets 75-59 Sunday to win the MCCC state tournament at Central Lakes College in Brainerd.
Ridgewater, the tournament's third seed from the south, led wire-to-wire in claiming the tournament's top trophy. The Warriors led 39-24 at the half and won going away.
"We had been rated No. 1 in the state all year," said Ridgewater coach Carrie Ogdahl. "And, then last week we lost to Mankato and Rochester. That was our little slump, I think."
Rochester was the second seed from the south but lived dangerously throughout the three-day event. The Yellowjackets had trailed by substantial margins in each to their first two tournament games. They rebounded from a 19-point deficit against CLC in the opening round and trailed Fergus Falls by 12 at halftime of their semifinal game. This time, Rochester finally climbed down into a hole too deep to escape.
"This was exciting, said Ogdahl. "We got up by 20 points and I thought, 'All right, let's keep going this time.' Twice this year we were up on Rochester by 16 points and lost. So we knew they could come back. But our team hung tough. Defense has won it all year for us."
The Warriors' stingy defense, led by all-tournament selections Jes Rusten, Katie Dale and Jennie Kuehn, held all-division and all-tournament team member Holly Graner to just six points.
"Our game plan was to play tough on defense and offensively, to keep attacking and put it in the hole," said Ogdahl. "This year it could have been anybody's tournament so we came in here with no pressure. We just wanted to go out, have fun and do the things we've done all year. We worked hard and played great as a team."
Jodene Negen led the Warriors with 22 points. Lindsey Mulder added 19 and Rusten 11. Jodene and Sara Negen each pulled down eight rebounds.
Michelle Melquist scored 17 points for the Yellowjackets and contributed seven rebounds.
Both Ridgewater and Rochester advance to the Region 13A tournament at Madison, Wis., next weekend. They'll be joined by Western Wisconsin Tech and Madison Tech.
Fergus Falls 68
In a game pairing two No. 1 seeds, the Bethany Lutheran Vikings won the battle for third place with an 83-68 win over the Fergus Falls Lady Spartans. Bethany came into the tournament as the top seed from the south while Fergus Falls held the one slot in the north.
The Vikings led by a 36-29 margin at halftime and expanded that lead to 15 despite having two players foul out. Jessica Krumwiede and Tiffany Dennis both fouled out for Bethany.
Jenny Otto and Natalie Bartsch each scored 16 points to pace the Vikings. Otto also collected nine rebounds. Erin Bourne dished out seven assists for Bethany.
The Lady Spartans got a 20-point performance form Heide Malone and 14 points and seven boards from Alayna Follingstad. Julie Hemker contributed seven assists.
April Camarillo 2, Sharisse Heiderscheidt 8, Beth Zosel 7, Shannon Spears 4, Michelle Slotto 2, Susie Hayes 22. Team totals: FG 17-66 (26 percent), FT 10-17 (59 percent)
CENTRAL LAKES (70)
Amy Solorz 7, Anna Struss 9, Mandy Moore 3, Jeanna Baratto 14, Heather Olson 8, Beth Frost 3, Cassey Veith 5, Liz Reis 4, Becca Nagel 5, Amy Martinson 12. Team totals: FG 28-55 (51 percent), FT 7-10 (70 percent).
3-point baskets -- CLC 7 (Olson 2, Solorz, More, Frost, Veith, Nagel); A-R 1 (Hayes). Rebounds -- CLC 48 (Martinson 11); A-R 31 (Heiderscheidt 8). Turnovers -- CLC 17; A-R 10. Total fouls -- CLC 12; A-R 11. Assists -- CLC 28 (Solorz 6, Veith 5); A-R 16 (Hayes 5). Steals -- CLC 6 (Baratto 2, Nagel 2); A-R 11 (Hayes 3). Blocks -- CLC 2 (Martinson, Moore); A-R 0. Halftime --CLC 34; A-R 22.
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