Sauk Centre starts state tournament play with wild comeback Defeats Minnehaha Academy 74-65

“We were so excited. We couldn’t be happier to play another game and now we’re on TV,” were the words from senior captain Jill Klaphake after the Sauk Centre Girls Basketball Team advanced to the state semifinals with a 74-65 win over Minnehaha Academy Wednesday night at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis.
Klaphake and the Streeters really had to work for this win, their 30th on the season. They had to deal with the tough guard tandem of sisters Taytum and Terra Rhoades and their 6’1” center Nevaeh Galloway. The Streeters had trouble rebounding and stopping the Redhawks early on and faced a 12-point 23-11 deficit in the first half.
Sauk Centre started to chip away by burying some long shots from the outside. Klaphake and Maesyn Thiesen each sunk two three-pointers later in the half to get the Streeters back in the game that trimmed the deficit to just three points, 33-30 at halftime.
“We just started doing the things we talked about, that was getting back on defense – first and foremost – and starting to get bodies on the people after they made a shot and just blocking out and rebounding. We talked about making a transition – and they got out on us – they are athletic and big down low. We just had to keep at them. We slowed them down a bit and we started chipping away at their game,” said Sauk Centre Head Coach Scott Bergman.
The second half of 18-minute basketball belonged to Sauk Centre. A big reason was their intense pace – up and down the court – wore Minnehaha Academy down.
When Thiesen drilled another three-pointer four minutes and thirty seconds into the second half it gave Sauk Centre their first lead of the game, 40-38.
The teams jostled for the lead for the next six minutes, before Sauk Centre put together a nearly, flawless three minutes of basketball. They swarmed Redhawk players, cut into passing lanes and that created five steals and fast break baskets. A four-point, 52-48 deficit, quickly become a 60-52 lead.
“We just started getting fingertips on the basketball and getting two on ones,” said Bergman.
Klaphake added, “That was crazy, there were two bounce pass layups and both Tori (Peschel) and Kelsey (Peschel) got a hand on it and we got out on a fastbreak—that was awesome.”
Minnehaha Academy wouldn’t go away quite yet though as they reeled off a couple baskets that trimmed the lead to 63-60 with just over three minutes left.
Sauk Centre came up with the knockout punch when Alyssa Kohorst got free for two layups and one free-throw and Kelsey Peschel buried two big free-throws to put the Streeters up 70-60 and the game out of reach.
All five Sauk Centre starters scored at least nine points in the contest. Thiesen had 22, Klaphake 20, Kohorst 13, Tori Peschel 10 and Kelsey Peschel 9.
Tori Peschel also had 11 rebounds and Thiesen six steals and six assists for the victors. Sauk Centre forced 21 turnovers in the game.
The win was the 29th straight victory for Sauk Centre and put them in the Class AA state semifinals for the third straight year. The talented Minnehaha Academy team, which had Bergman worried about their quarterfinal matchup, will compete in the consolation bracket.
“We were very concerned. We are just thrilled to get by this one and thrilled we are moving on to the semifinals. We’re happy there is a consolation bracket and we’re happy we are not in the consolation bracket,” he said.
Up next for the Sauk Centre is Watertown-Mayer. The Royals are 27-3 after rolling by Rochester Lourdes 71-58 in their quarterfinal matchup. The two teams will lock horns Friday night at 8 p.m. at Williams Arena.
SC 30 44 74
MA 33 32 65
SC scoring: Kelsey Peschel 9 (7 rebounds, 4 assists), Klaphake 20 (5 assists), Tori Peschel 10 (11 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals), Thiesen 22 (6 rebounds, 6 steals), Kohorst 13 (5 rebounds). Team totals: FG 26-58, FT 14-19, PF 10. Minnehaha Academy: FG 26-54, FT 4-13, PF 16.

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