The Pequot Lakes girls’ basketball team’s dream of a third straight trip to state vanished when the second-seeded Patriots lost to top-seeded Crookston 76-67 in the Northeast Subsection 8AA final on Tuesday, March 5, at Bemidji State University.
The Patriots finish the season 19-10 overall while the Pirates advanced to the Section 8AA final where they lost to Pelican Rapids 61-56 in overtime on Friday, March 8.
“We played hard and never gave up,” said Pequot Lakes coach Jon Dale, “but our free throw shooting was terrible. We made only 10 of 23 attempts, and that was the key to our loss.”
Six minutes into the game, the Patriots led 10-6 behind three straight 3-point baskets by Katie White. Pequot Lakes still led 14-12 with just over nine minutes left in the opening half on the strength of four points from Jessica Kreitz.
Crookston then went on a 13-0 run to open up a 25-14 lead with 6:05 left when Kylie Simmons, Kenzie Klatt and Danica Brekken all made 3-point shots.
The Patriots eventually trailed 30-18 before going on a 9-2 run to cut the deficit to five points with 42 seconds left before intermission. But the Pirates extended the lead in the final seconds on a pair of 3-point baskets.
Early in the second half, the Patriots narrowed the gap to six points on a driving layup by Kreitz and a steal for a layup by Vanessa Lane. Crookston answered with an 11-4 run behind a pair of baskets by Brooke Heggie to make it 57-52 with 10 minutes remaining.
The Pirates increased their lead to 66-48, but Pequot Lakes weren’t about to give up, and cut the deficit to 68-61 with under three minutes left as Brittny Bzdok accounted for seven points.
In the final 1:30, the Patriots were trailing 72-66 when Bzdok made another 3-point shot. Pequot Lakes then needed to foul, and the Pirates cashed in by making 10 of 12 free throws, including eight straight at one point, to end the Patriots’ season.
Pequot Lakes had five players score in double figures, including Lane with 15 points, Miller with 14 and White, Kreitz and Bzdok each with 12. Crookston had four in double figures, including Heggie with 19.
The Patriots shot well from the floor as they made 26 of 42 attempts for 62 percent, but they made just 44 percent (10 of 23) from the free-throw line while Crookston made 15 of 18 attempts from the line.
“We never gave up, and had two or three nice comeback attempts,” Dale said. "Another key came when we were down by five points with less a minute left in the first half and (Crookston) made two 3-pointers."
Dale added that his squad had trouble stopping the 6-foot-1 Heggie under the basket.
“She’s only a sophomore,” Dale said. “Four of Crookston’s top five scorers are sophomores. So they’re a young team like us.”
Pequot Lakes will graduate two players in Jessica Kreitz and Abby Palmer.
“We will miss Jessica and Abby, but we should be contenders again next year,” said Dale, whose squad was the two-time defending section champion. "We had a good season finishing 19-10 with a tough schedule that we play."
In the Southwest Subsection 8AA final, Pelican Rapids defeated Wadena-Deer Creek 54-44. W-DC had defeated top-seeded Hawley in the subsection semifinals.
Last season, the Patriots defeated Hawley in triple overtime in the Section 8AA final. Pequot Lakes then advanced to the Class AA state tournament for the second straight year.
Crookston 38 38 — 76
Pequot Lakes 27 40 — 67
Danica Brekken 12, Kenzie Klatt 8, Kylie Simmons 11, Katie Davidson 2, Sydney Boike 17, Amber Froeber 5, Erica Samuelson 2, Brooke Heggie 19. FT 15-18 (63 percent).
Haley Wiebolt 2, Brittny Bzdok 12, Vanessa Lane 15, Katie White 12, Kayla Miller 14, Jessica Kreitz 12. FG 26-42 (62 percent), FT 10-23 (44 percent). 3-point: 5-10 (50 percent).