Blue Earth Area captured the 2AA South Sub-Section title with a 40-29 victory over Hayfield in girls’ basketball action at the Taylor Center in Mankato on March 8.
The Bucs were the No. 1 seed, while the Vikings came into the game as the No. 3 seed.
Hayfield, members of the Hiawatha Valley League-Gold Conference, had defeated New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva 39-33 to earn their trip to Mankato. The Bucs 41-35 victory over Maple River propelled them to the Sub-Section Championship.
Kate Hassing scored the opening basket of the game to give the Bucs the early lead. Hayfield tied it up with a basket off an offensive rebound, but Hassing followed with two free throws to put the Bucs in the lead for good.
Ashley Olson hit three consecutive shots from behind the arc to spark a 9-0 run, giving the Bucs a 15-4 lead at the 10:42 mark of the first half.
The Bucs would continue to widen their lead. Sydney Ristau’s turn-around jumper in the lane gave Blue Earth Area their biggest margin of the opening half at 24-12, with under four minutes remaining.Hayfield would take advantage of a couple of ball handling miscues by the Bucs to score the final five points of the half and cut the Bucs lead at half time to 24-17.
“Ashley Olson’s ‘threes’ gave us a cushion and our defense did the job the rest of the game,” says Bucs coach Al Cue.
Hayfield scored the opening basket of the second half to cut the lead to five points but that was as close as the Vikings would get.
Olson, who made all of her shots she attempted during the game, scored the Bucs’ first points of the second half with her fourth trey of the evening.
Following another Vikings’ basket, the Bucs put together a 7-0 run with Hassing scoring the first four points and Camille Driscoll drilling a trey.
That made the score 34-23 in favor of the Bucs, forcing a Hayfield time out at the 11:30 mark.
The Bucs’ defense shut down the Viking offense the rest of the way, as the Vikings would score only six more points the rest of the game.
Their last points came with just over six minutes left in the game.
Olson led the Bucs with 12 points with Hassing also reaching double digits with 10.
Hayley Pirsig had six rebounds for the Bucs, who out-rebounded the Vikings by a 28-23 margin.
The victory sets up a third meeting with the St. Peter Saints, the winners of the North Sub-Section.
The teams split their two games during the season with each team winning on the road.
St. Peter defeated Le Sueur-Hender-son 62-42 in the North Sub-Section title game.
Details on the championship game will be in next week’s Register.
Hayfield ends its season with a 19-9 record. Blue Earth Area improved to 20-5.