Bucs make their way to STATE
Demonstrating the hard-working defense and patient offense that had gotten them to the state tournament, the Blue Earth Area Buccaneers gave the No. 1-ranked Jordan Jaguars all they wanted before falling 49-40 at the Target Center Wednesday night.
If the Bucs, making their first-ever appearance at the girls state tournament, were supposed to be nervous or intimidated, they sure didn’t show it.
BEA jumped out to a 9-1 lead to start the game. Morgan Dickman’s drive to the hoop gave the Bucs their first two points and put Dickman at the foul line. She converted the free throw to give the BEA squad a 3-0 lead. Kate Hassing’s hard work underneath the bucket paid off with a trip to the charity stripe where she converted both free throws to make it 5-0.
Jordan’s Brittany Chambers, a Miss Minnesota Basketball finalist, got the Jaguars on the board with a free throw. Dickman answered with another drive to the bucket, this time going to her left hand to bank one in off the glass.
Jackie Klinkner, the lone senior on the Buccaneer squad, got into the act next as she hit one from the left wing to make it 9-1 in favor of the Bucs with just over 14 minutes left on the clock.
Jordan came back with two 3-point plays to close the gap to two. The first was a traditional 3-point play by the Jags’ 6-foot-1 center, Lisa Dietel. The second came on a shot behind the arc by senior forward Michelle O’Malley.
Hayley Pirsig used her left hand to get a basket over the taller Jaguar defenders, putting the Bucs up by four at 11-7 before seven straight Jaguar points gave last year’s state runners-up a 14-11 lead.
Baskets by Olivia Skaare and Dickman – sandwiched around a Jaguar 2-pointer – brought the Bucs to within one point, trailing 16-15.
Chambers boosted Jordan’s lead to four with a 3-pointer with just over 1:30 left in the half. The Bucs held possession until nine seconds were left. Ashley Olson drove to the basket and put one in off the glass making it a 19-17 game at the intermission.
Blue Earth Area took their only lead of the second half in the opening minutes. After a basket by Jordan’s O’Malley, Hayley Pirsig sank two free throws and Olson hit a three that gave the Bucs a 22-21 lead.
Dietel, a South Dakota State signee, and Chambers, who is headed to Kansas State, scored the Jaguar’s next seven points against a bucket by the Buc’s Hassing to give Jordan a 28-24 advantage.
Meghan Mittelstadt brought the Bucs back within one as she swished the nets from behind the arc. However, an 11-2 run by the Jaguars gave them their first double digit lead of the game at 39-29 with under eight minutes to play.
Following a time out at the 2:37 mark, another O’Malley basket gave Jordan their biggest lead of the night, 46-33.
The Bucs fought back with a three by Dickman and layups by Hassing and Olson that closed the gap to seven with 38 seconds remaining. In the end, however, the Jaguars were able to escape with a victory to advance to the next round where they will meet No. 3-ranked Caledonia.
“I’m so proud of our girls and the way we played tonight,” says Bucs Coach Al Cue. “We gave them a battle, they knew they had a game.”
The Bucs were led in scoring by Dickman and Hassing who had ten points each, while Olson added seven for the Bucs.
Hassing pulled down six rebounds followed by Klinkner with five.
The Bucs made 16 of 41 two point attempts for a 39 percent success rate, while hitting 3 of 9 from beyond the arc or 33.3 percent. The Bucs shot nine free throws, making five.
Each team was charged with 16 turnovers. Jordan led in rebounds, 36-27.
Blue Earth Area held Jordan 22 points below their season average of 71 points per game. The Jaguars made 38.8 percent of their 2-point attempts and were 4 of 16 (25 percent) on their 3-point attempts.
The Bucs end their season with a 17-12 record.