By Jake Calhoun
Journal Sports Writer
MARSHALL - A play here or there and the Wabasso girl's basketball team could have upended the crown from defending state champion Minneota's head.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Wabasso's Chelsey Guetter (41) takes a shot despite a double team from Taylor Reiss (22) and Molly Hennen of Minneota during the Section 3A Championship Game Thursday at Southwest State University in Marshall.
The Rabbits pulled to within four points with less than 3 minutes to play, but the Vikings (30-1, 16-0 Camden) held on for a 50-43 victory in the Section 3A finals at SMSU in Marshall on Thursday.
Taylor Reiss was the thorn in Wabasso's side, scoring a game-high 31 points while grabbing nine rebounds.
"She always gets 22-to-25 [points], we just couldn't give her 31," said Wabasso coach Neil Dolan of Reiss. "She's hard to stop. She's got good body position and she's quick on the rebound. She made big plays."
Reiss' 18 first-half points outscored Wabasso (24-3, 14-2 Tomahawk) entirely in that period while leading Minneota to a 30-17 halftime lead.
Minneota clamped down defensively, holding Wabasso to 4-of-15 shooting from 3-point range.
"They blocked three or four of them, we needed to get them off quicker," Dolan said. "It was good shot-selection, they just defended the 3. They came and worked hard and we just didn't get it off quick enough."
Wabasso sophomore Morgan Frank was limited in the first half after drawing three fouls within the first 10 minutes of play. However, Frank made her presence known in the second half.
"She had a mismatch with [Payton] Boerboom - she's a couple inches taller than her," said senior Chelsey Guetter of Frank. "So we popped me out to the wing to get her some looks down low and she really executed well."
Frank's prowess down low accounted for nine of her 11 points in the second half, leading the Rabbits' comeback attempt as the clock winded down. She intercepted a pass at the point after a failed three-point play attempt by Guetter, drove it down the other way and laid it up to cut Minneota's lead to 46-40 shortly before drawing her fourth personal foul with 4:45 to go.
However, Frank stayed in and even cut the lead to 46-42 with 2:50 to go. From there, possessions stalled as Wabasso found itself trying to prevent Minneota from burning any more clock. Karlee Eicthen fouled Molly Hennen with less than 0:40 to go for a one-and-one free-throw attempt.
Hennen missed her attempt, but Reiss nailed Wabasso's coffin with a putback immediately afterward with 0:20 to go to forge a 48-42 gap for the eventual 50-43 decision.
Despite losing to Minneota for the third-straight time in the Section 3A title game, Dolan said last year's blowout loss was much worse.
"This year, we stuck with it," Dolan said. "We get one rebound there on that missed free throw, it's possibly a different game. In games like this, every play counts."
Wabasso will say goodbye to its senior group, which includes Guetter, who finished her final high school game with a team-high 16 points.
"It's a great school to play for, the fans are awesome," Guetter said. "I think of coach [Dolan] as a dad to me."
Wabasso 17 26 - 43
Minneota 30 20 - 50
L Rohlik 1-8 0-0 3, Eichten 1-9 0-0 2, K Rothmeier 3-5 0-0 6, Guetter 6-13 2-7 16, Frank 5-5 1-2 11, Liebl 1-4 1-2 4, C Rohlik 0-2 1-2 1, Franta 0-1 0-0 0.
M Hennen 2-8 0-2 5, Corbin 1-5 0-0 2, Stienessen 4-11 2-2 11, Reiss 12-18 7-9 31, Boerboom 0-3 1-2 1, Larson 0-1 0-0 0, M Jerzak 0-3 0-0 0, Maeyaert 0-2 0-0 0, L Jerzak 0-0 0-0 0.