While the Redwood Valley girls basketball team left Minneapolis without a victory at state, it was a big first step in the development of a program that should only get better in the upcoming seasons.
The Cardinals (19-10) made an outstanding run through the Section 3AA field and lost their two state tournament games by a combined four points. That is quite a turnaround for a team that went 2-25 just two seasons ago.
Following a heartbreaking, yet extremely well played, loss to number one seed Roseau in the quarterfinals, the Cardinals dropped into the consolation bracket where they squared off with Proctor (25-8).
While the battle with Roseau was an aesthetic gem, the match-up with Proctor was the exact opposite, as both teams struggled tremendously to find any rhythm in the first half. The Cardinals scored just seven points in the opening 11 minutes of action and would trail 21-10 at the break.
The Cardinals – as they have all postseason – did not wither up and die, outscoring Proctor 18-9 to open the second half to cut the deficit to 30-28 with 7:14 to play in regulation. The Rails would respond with a 6-2 run to go up 36-30, but Aubree Hicks would score on a lay-up and then she buried a three to cut it to 36-35 with 3:31 to play. Proctor would score, but Haley Garman added a jumper.
The Rails would then hit 1-of-2 from the line to make it 39-37 with 1:22 left.
The Cards had a chance to tie or take the lead but could not convert, and the Rails would add a free throw to go up 40-37. Garman was then fouled and went to the line for two, making one to cut it to 40-38. The Cards would foul and send the Rails’ Morgan Nylund to the line where she would make one of two.
A last chance three by AJ Guggisberg would fall short, however, to essentially end the game.
It was a big night for Garman in the loss as she surpassed 1,000 career points as just a sophomore. She would lead the Cards with 14 points, eight rebounds, three steals and an assist.
Hicks capped off two solid games with 12 points, four rebounds and a steal, and Sydney Sommers had six points and three rebounds. Amy Martius had four points and four rebounds, and Caitlyn Johnson had two points.
The Cardinals shot 31 percent from the floor (13-of-42) and were 9-of-15 from the charity stripe. The Rails shot 37.5 percent (15-of-40) and struggled to 9-of-21 shooting from the charity stripe.
Head Coach Taya Kockelman says goodbye to a valuable senior group including: Bri Panitzke, Johnson, Martius, Harlee Ahrens, Brenna Beran and Jenna Pendleton but has a great core group returning led by the talented sophomore group of Garman, Sommers, Hicks, Hannah Schjenken, Guggisberg and Payden Beran and juniors Leah Irlbeck, Alexa Steffl, Aubrey Bidinger, Keelie Van Hee and Callie Matray.