Girls fall short in first playoff contest
BY DAVID PEDERSEN
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS
Rockford boys basketball does not want the season to come to an abrupt end in the section playoffs, a fate suffered by the Rocket girls.
Rockford ended the girls basketball season with a 47-29 loss to St. Cloud Cathedral in the first round of the section tournament last week.
The boys open the Section 5AA boys basketball tournament at home, 7 p.m. Thursday, March 7 against Kimball Area.
The Rockets secured the No. 4 seed in a close call with Kimball after winning the final two regular season games last week. The teams split the two games played in the Central Minnesota Conference.
Last week Rockford defeated Milaca 76-52 and Maple Lake 76-71, improving to 14-12 on the season.
The Kimball-Rockford winner takes on No. 1 seed St. Cloud Cathedral at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 9 in Buffalo. The section semifinal would be 6 p.m. March 12 at Dassel-Cokato and the finals on March 15 at St. Cloud State.
“We played pretty good defense the entire game and got after it on offense, creating a lot of good looks at the basket,” said girls coach James Carr. “The ball would not go in.”
The Rockets trailed 22-15 at the half before making a run in the second half, having the opportunity to cut the lead to three points. The shots would not fall and Cathedral slowly inched away.
Carr switched from a matchup zone defense that was effective against taller players to a person to person pressure defense in order to generate its own offense. That’s when Cathedral’s standout big player with more than 1,000 career points had more opportunities.
Brianna Calder led Rockford with 10 points and Jayda Palmer came down with 11 rebounds.
Carr said the game was like the Rocket season, a game of runs. The team would win a few games in a row, hit a slide, and then win six straight to go above the.500 mark. Flu and injuries down the stretch put the team out of rhythm, leading to a string of defeats leading to the playoffs.
Rockford will lose four seniors in Katelynn Pedersen, Palmer, Nkaujntsa Lee and Madison Read. Carr does return several players with “big time varsity experience” in Abby Botten, Jordan Wedding, Hnubci Lee, Samantha Bagaason and Calder.
Also getting varsity playing time was Tshiabli Lee and Megan Westrup, plus Caitlin and Allison McNeal. Carr expects to have several players challenging for varsity spots.
Contact Dave Pedersen at [email protected]