The Indian girls won the Section 2A Championship with a 59-41 win over St. Clair, played Friday, March 9 in Bresnan Arena at MSU-Mankato.
The Indian girls won the Section 2A Championship with a 59-41 win over St. Clair, played Friday, March 9 in Bresnan Arena at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Coach Ryan Hulke was very excited about the win. “I don't know where to start, we were good in so many areas and everyone stepped up to make big plays throughout the game,” he said when asked for comments on the game.
Hulke said St. Clair’s defensive game plan was to take away Madi Heiderscheidt and Brianna Polesky. “Well, Madi and Bri went for 25 points on the night, so I was happy to see they didn’t just stand around, but remained active on the offensive end.”
The Indians had a hot start, building a 20-6 lead in the first half, before St. Clair came back and brought it to 28-22, Sleepy Eye, at the half.
With pressure on Heiderscheidt and Polesky, the Indians looked for others to step up and score. Hulke said Madi Krueger took over that roll. “Madi K started the second half on a 8-0 run herself, by getting to the basket multiple times and making tough shots,” he said. “In addition, she took over our point guard duties most the game and added six rebounds and three assists.”
Hulke also liked what he saw from McKenzie Cselovszki. “Mac grabbed multiple defensive boards in a crowd of people, and to watch her go up and snatch those boards from the 6'0 St. Clair girls was awesome,” he said. “Just to see her fight, and the will to grab boards for us was huge. Mac also added a big ‘and one’ in the second half, which gave us some life once again.”
Hulke noted Sarah Ibarra’s great first half—hitting two threes—but said she unfortunately found herself in foul trouble early in the second half.
Hulke said Mya Ibberson also found foul trouble late in the first half and early in the second. “But obviously, when she was in the game she was a difference maker in the paint for us, grabbing six boards and contesting St. Clair’s big girls and their dribble drives all night.”
Hulke also praised his bench in the win. “Hanna Himmelman hit a big three and a contested layup for us in the first half,” he said. “Once again, she filled her role off the bench in Hanna-like fashion. Mariah Miller also gave us great minutes, filling in for Sarah and Mya’s foul trouble. Just being her scrappy self, she was always around the ball and battling on the block defensively. Mariah has given us these minutes all year and is a big part of our success.”
Hulke stressed this win was a big time team effort and said the best part was their defensive mindset and ability, or want, to completely buy-in to their defensive game plan.
“St. Clair literally has 20 man sets, 10 zone sets and eight out of bounds plays,” said Hulke. “These girls put in the time in the film room, to know and recognize them all by formation and name. There wasn't a set called by St. Clair (who doesn’t run a motion offense and will continually run sets) that these girls didn’t know. I couldn’t be more proud of their commitment to get to know St. Clair and everything they do.”
Stats on the night: Heiderscheidt, 14 points and four assists. Krueger, 14 points, nine rebounds. Polesky, 11 points, eight rebounds. Ibarra, eight points, four assists and four steals.
The Indians meet Ada-Borup, Thursday March 15 at 5 p.m. in Williams Arena at the University of Minnesota.
The Indians also played in the State Tournament in 2016, losing their first game. Hulke and the girls do not want to repeat that experience.
“Once again we are back in the State Tournament, and these girls are not just okay with being there,” said Hulke. “They want to win games and we should expect to win games.”