By Bruce Strand
Elk River Star News
After five players fouled out, 89 free throws were shot, and two extra sessions were sweated out, there was finally a verdict in the 10th annual River Battle girls basketball game Saturday.
The Elk River Elks prevailed 89-86 over the host Rogers Royals, after going to basically a perimeter keep-away offense with their two post players watching the overtimes from the bench.
“How many overtimes was it? Just two? It seems like it was about six,” reflected a weary Reed Caouette, the Elks coach.
The Elks (3-4) made 34 of 51 free shots, including Gabi Haack going 8-for-8 and Anna Rollag 3-for-3 in the overtimes. Rollag’s steal and full-court drive for a 3-point play that gave the Elks an 82-80 lead was the most pivotal play in this marathon, seesaw affair.
Rogers made 25 of 38 free throws but had three players foul out in the OT’s (Bailey Miller, Adri Tjeerdsma and Marina Nowak) with a total of 29 points between them. Meanwhile the Elks lost 6-2 center Abi Scheid (14 points) late in regulation and 5-11 forward Sidney Wentland (12 points) early in overtime.
Haack, who was 9-for-11 overall in scoring 15 points, said she enjoyed going to the line in the pressure situations.
“I make them most of the time,” she smiled.
Asked if she was worried when the Elks had to play the OT’s without their tall players, Haack said, “Yes, I was, but he (Caouette) worked that out. We played five out and just moved the ball around.”
Rollag revealed that her crucial three-point play was graced by a bit of luck. After swiping the ball on Rogers’ end, she barreled toward the basket, going right at a much taller, lankier Taylor Anderson who was backpedaling on defense. Just before contact she flipped the ball upward and didn’t see it nestle through the cords.
“I actually didn’t think I made the basket. When he (the official) said I only had one free throw, that’s when I realized I had made the shot,” said Rollag, who swished the free throw, too, and had five of her seven points in the OT’s.
After two Haack free shots made it 87-81, Anderson immediately nailed a 3-pointer from about 28 feet to keep her team in the game with 15 seconds left. But Rogers had to foul, and Haack cashed two more for an 89-84 lead. Rogers got a basket at the buzzer.
Rogers’ top two players had stellar games as junior point guard Anderson scored 22 points, mainly with furious but well-controled drives to the hoop, and 6-3 senior post Lindsay Dorr notched 19 points, four blocked shots and seven rebounds.
Anderson had a chance to win for Rogers at the end of regulation (which ended 69-69) and the first overtime (75-75) but missed on hurried jump shots both times.
“It’s always tough losing to Elk River,” said Anderson. “We couldn’t quite get there, but we’ll get them next time. We hope to see them again at the section.”
Tjeerdsma added 12 points and Miller 11 for Rogers.
The Elks had five double-digit scorers. Along with Haack’s 15 and Scheid’s 14, they got 12 each from Wentland, Shelby Gracik and Jaime Langbehn. Molli Detloff, a starter last year making her first appearance this year due to a leg injury, scored six points.
With Scheid and Wentland out, Caouette deployed the 5-8 Langbehn and 5-7 Detloff, both excellent athletes who star in their other sports, take turns guarding the 6-3 Dorr, and the Elks still came out on top.
“I have to give our girls a lot of credit for battling through a lot of adversity,” said the Elk coach. “We made big plays on both offense and defense. The stops we made on defense down the stretch, the loose balls we got to, and the defensive rebounds, those are effort plays.”
The Elks, who snapped a three-game losing streak, posted their fourth straight win in the River Battle Series, evening the count at 5-5.
Both teams were to have holiday tournaments starting Friday. The Elks faced St. Michael-Albertville in the Knights’ tournament. Rogers faced Rockford in a tournament at Jordan.
In earlier action, the Shakopee Sabres halted Rogers’ three-game win streak, defeating the Royals 59-48 Thursday evening in Shakopee. Sophomore guard Tia Koenen dominated with 27 points for Shakopee (6-1) and Haley Zerr added 15. Marina Nowak scored 18 for Rogers (3-2). Bailey Miller and Lindsay Dorr added eight each.