Northfield grinds past KoMets in Section Semis
Throughout the year, the Kasson-Mantorville girls basketball team has had plenty of experience in close games. With nine of their 27 regular season games coming down to six points or less and a 7-2 record in those games, the experience of being locked in a tight matchup should be looked at as an advantage heading into the playoffs.
However, sometimes the pendulum has to swing the other way. In the Section 1AAA semifinal against Northfield on March 4, the KoMets’ good fortune in close games took a turn for the worse as they were eliminated by the Raiders in a physical 50-44 defeat.
The matchup with the Raiders was a rematch of last year’s semifinal and it turned out to be a carbon copy with both teams grinding it out throughout the first half. K-M found themselves down by seven points early in the contest, but was able to take control late in order to head back into the locker room with a 26-21 lead.
The KoMets would come out hot in the second half and have plenty of contributors including senior Kristin Scott, who put up 20 points and 14 rebounds in her final high school game before heading to Iowa State next fall. K-M also got a solid effort from Peyton Suess, who scored 12 points and pulled down 13 rebounds to help the KoMets earn a 44-26 advantage on the glass.
Numbers like that usually mean victory for the KoMets, but instead Northfield’s defense turned things up a notch. The size in the middle of the paint seemed to get a hand on almost every shot making K-M earn every basket they would score, which was an anomaly for a team that scored the most points per game in the section.
“We have got to give Northfield a lot of credit on defense,” K-M head coach Ryan Haraldson admitted. “They used their size advantage and contested almost every shot in the second half.”
With the Raiders’ defense leading the way, Northfield would eventually take the lead after the teams went back and forth with about five minutes left and pulled away late to send the KoMets home early.
To get to the Northfield game, the KoMets had one final home game when they hosted Stewartville in the quarterfinal. K-M and Stewartville traded blows in the first half of the game and went into the locker room tied at 23. When the teams emerged from the locker room, the KoMets came out with more energy and were lead by Scott, who scored 17 of her 28 points in the second half.
Although the Tigers were able to keep the game close thanks to 13 offensive rebounds, the KoMets were able to hold on and pick up the 60-48 victory.
“We give Stewartville a lot of credit,” Haraldson said after the win. “They came out with a lot of energy and they’ve been hit with the injury bug all year. Their youth in the program has had to step up and has done a great job. They’ll be a force in the HVL in the next couple of years.”
The KoMets finished the season with a 22-7 record and won their third straight HVL championship earlier this year.