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After falling to No. 1 Roseau in state quarterfinals, Panthers defeat Esko, Rochester Lourdes

They brought home the hardware.

The NRHEG girls’ basketball team, underdogs in the section tournament and unseeded at state, took the consolation title in the 2016-17 state tournament last week.


NRHEG 73, Rochester Lourdes 57

The Panthers didn’t just win the consolation championship game of the state girls’ basketball tournament.

They dominated it.

NRHEG routed Rochester Lourdes 73-57 Friday afternoon at Concordia University of St. Paul.

It was close for the first 12 minutes, with Marnie Wagner hitting three three-pointers for NRHEG, which led 24-20 after a Maddie Wagner free throw at about the 10-minute mark. The Panthers went on to finish the first half on a 14-4 run behind five points by Betsy Schoenrock, threes by Rachel Collins and Kayley Camerer, and a traditional three-point play by Maddie Wagner. It was 38-29 NRHEG at halftime.

The Panthers got four straight offensive rebounds to open the second half and finally cashed in when Collins nailed a three, followed by threes from Collins and Maddie Wagner and a basket by Schoenrock. Suddenly the Panthers had a 49-30 lead.

The Eagles tried to stay in the game and did cut it to 50-39 with about 11 minutes left. From there it was all Panthers behind the Wagner sisters at the free-throw line and Schoenrock on the inside.

At about the two-minute mark, NRHEG’s seniors began taking the floor.

The Panthers celebrated their fourth state tournament trophy in seven seasons and first since 2014.

Schoenrock led the Panthers with 20 points to go along with nine rebounds. Marnie and Maddie each scored 15, Camerer 12 and Collins 11 for NRHEG.

The Panthers finished winning 20 of their final 21 games, with an overall record of 27-6. Lourdes finished 22-11. Both teams were unseeded at the state tournament. Lourdes lost 71-53 to No. 3 Watertown-Mayer in the quarterfinals and knocked off Minnehaha Academy 82-68 in the consolation semifinals.


NRHEG 52, Esko 47

Maddie Wagner hit both ends of a 1-and-1 free throw to ice a 52-47 victory over Esko for the Panthers in the consolation semifinals Thursday at Concordia University in St. Paul.

It was a good measuring stick for the unseeded Panthers against No. 5 Esko, which lost 48-43 to No. 4 seed New London-Spicer in the quarterfinals. It was billed as a close game and it was.

Both teams had trouble finding the basket early, with the Panthers holding a 10-9 edge at about the midway mark.

The teams traded baskets until halftime, when Esko went for one shot and made it with three seconds left to pull within 23-21 at the intermission. It was a fast moving game in which the officials called few fouls. It took only about 25 minutes to complete.

The second half was every bit as close, Esko’s biggest lead 44-38 with about eight minutes left and NRHEG’s largest edge not coming until the end. Marnie scored five points down the stretch — including a three — Maddie was 4-for-4 at the line, and Grace Johns sank a key three.

Marnie led the Panthers with 15 points, followed by Maddie with 14, Schoenrock 12, Grace Johns six, Rachel Collins three and Kayley Camerer two for the Panthers. Schoenrock had eight rebounds.

Esko finished with a record of 25-7.


Roseau 82, NRHEG 64

The Panthers proved they could play with the No. 1 team in the state.

They just couldn’t stay with them.

The top-seeded, top-rated Rams pulled away about midway through the first half and handed the Panthers an 82-64 setback in Wednesday afternoon’s quarterfinals at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis.

The Panthers, matched with Roseau as a random draw after not getting seeded in the state tournament, kept it close for the first dozen-plus minutes, holding a 25-20 advantage after a three by Johns with about seven minutes left.

But Roseau, led by senior Miss Basketball finalist Kiley Borowicz, used its press effectively while going on a 13-9 run to lead 43-34 at halftime. That was despite baskets by Schoenrock and Maddie to finish the first half.

The Panthers, with turnover and foul trouble in the first half, refused to fold in the second half against a Roseau team that won its section tournament games by 34.5 points.

But the Rams dominated from there, silencing the NRHEG contingent early. They were briefly rejuvenated with about six minutes left, when the Panthers pulled within 73-59 and a chance to cut it to 12, but that’s as close as it got.

Both coaches emptied their benches in the final minutes.

Schoenrock finished with 20 points, Marnie 16, Johns 10, Maddie six and Erin VanWilgen three for the Panthers.


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