Six straight wins for the girls
On Senior Night, the Blue Earth Area girls basketball team (15-11) finished the regular season strong with a 46-36 home win over New Richland Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva on Feb. 20. This marked BEA’s sixth consecutive victory, and seventh out of their last eight ball games.
From the opening tip, the Bucs displayed good ball movement around the perimeter. BEA’s Sofie Blair buried an open three pointer from the top of the key for the team’s first field goal of the game.
Later in the period, Grace Mensing found an open Caitlin Rorman for an easy bucket in the paint. With the score 5-3 early in the half, the Buccaneers were able to maintain a lead throughout the rest of the game.
Late in the first half, Blue Earth Area forward Reegan Howard was able to find the range from downtown with two makes from beyond the arc. The Panthers called for time after the second long distance bomb as the Bucs enjoyed a 17-5 lead with 2:56 to go before halftime.
Unfortunately for the Blue Earth Area faithful, tragedy struck for the Bucs in the second half. At the 12:56 mark, junior guard Sidney Blair collided with a Panther player and landed very awkwardly on her right leg.
Having already battled back from an anterior cruciate ligament tear in the knee, Blair was wearing a brace on the leg at the time of the injury.
She cried in agony on the gymnasium floor as the crowd remained silent. Unable to put any weight on her right leg, she received a standing ovation from fans as she was helped off the court by several members of the BEA athletic staff.
According to Blue Earth Area athletic director Rob Norman, Blair re-tore the ACL in the knee and will miss the rest of the season. Meanwhile, Buc basketball coach Al Cue says his team was emotionally shaken up after the injury.
“They were rattled, especially her sister Sophie,” Cue said. “Sidney’s a big part of our team and she finally worked her way back. It’s just a shame to have this happen.”
Shortly after the injury, the Bucs got back to work on offense. Ta Armstrong and Hannah Johnson each connected from downtown, while Sophie Blair converted on a layup. This offensive spurt allowed BEA to enjoy a 32-21 lead with under 10 minutes remaining.
Although the Bucs led by as many as 16 points in the second half, turnovers and missed free throws by BEA made things interesting down the stretch. With 33.6 seconds to go, a Panthers three pointer made the score 42-36 in favor of the Bucs.
As it turned out, Rorman and Lindsey Norman were able to finish off the feisty Panthers with four consecutive makes from the free throw line.
With the regular season completed, the girls from Blue Earth Area have earned the number two seed in the Section 2, Class AA sub-section bracket. Playing in the south region, BEA’s quarter-final contest will take place at home against arch rival Fairmont on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. Coach Cue thinks his team is well equipped for postseason success.
“I think our defense has gotten better, we’re playing our man defense better, and our defensive rebounding has improved,” Cue added. “The team believes that they can win and that has been a big key.”
BEA 57, GHEC 33
The Blue Earth Area Bucs ran away with the game in the first half against Granada Huntley East Chain-Truman-Martin Luther.
Outscoring their opponent 35-15 in the first half, the Bucs took advantage of 25 Jaguar turnovers. The extra possessions translated into 17 Buccaneer points. Good ball movement also highlighted BEA’s offensive output as the team registered 18 assists on the evening.
Buc junior Caitlin Rorman was a jack-of-all-trades in the contest, stuffing the stat sheet with 20 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, six steals and one blocked shot. Meanwhile, Reegan Howard connected on four of her seven attempts from beyond the arc, ending with 13 points.