Pine River-Backus’s Kendra Brasel probably didn’t think it would she would have a career-high performance after missing her first three shots in the East Subsection 5A championship game against Isle on Tuesday, March 5, at McGregor High School.
But the senior guard caught fire by making five 3-point baskets and scoring 21 points to lead the Tigers past the Huskies 60-52.
PR-B earned his first subsection title since switching to Class A years ago. The Tigers also advanced to the Section 5A championship game where they lost to Upsala on Friday, March 8.
“(Isle) was leaving me open right away,” Brasel explained. “We have so many people who can score, that gave me an advantage.”
Brasel scored seven of the Tigers’ first 11 points as PR-B assumed a 17-0 lead half way through the first half.
“We’ve been leaning on Kendra to shoot more,” said Tiger coach Randy Schwegel. “And tonight she did well. She’s one of the girls who come in every day and work on their shooting.”
Schwegel added that building an early lead was a key for his squad.
“We needed to do it,” said Schwegel, who primarily played six girls while Isle would substitute four players at one time. “We knew (Isle) would eventually turn things around.”
Isle finally score its first points on a 3-point basket by McKenzie Blood with 7:58 left in the half to make it 17-3.
But PR-B then extended the lead to 23-3 less than two minutes later. The Huskies did outscore the Tigers 17-8 for the remainder of the first half to cut the deficit to 31-20 at intermission.
Isle continued to rally with six of the first eight points of the second half before Brasel nailed a 3-point shot to stop the momentum. PR-B later led 38-30 when Megan Felthous had back-to-back steals for layups to extend the advantage.
The Tigers maintained a consistent lead of about 10 points, although Isle made a couple comeback bids. Amber Zimpel nailed a 3-point shot to cut the deficit to 51-43 with 4:12 left. PR-B later answered with a pair of free throws by Brasel after Zimpel fouled out despite being the top scorer for the Huskies with 14 points.
Isle did have a final chance when they scored five straight points to cut the deficit to 59-52 with 42.2 seconds left, but the Tigers sealed the victory with a late free throw by Autumn Ackerman.
PR-B was able to gain revenge on the Huskies, who had defeated the Tigers in last year’s subsection final.
“The difference is we graduated four starters and (PR-B) returned four starters,” said Isle coach Paul Tinjum. “We had hoped our depth would carry us, but (PR-B) has the best five starters in the section.”
Most of the statistical categories were fairly even as Isle had a slim 28-27 rebounding edge, and both teams shot 68 percent from the free-throw line and each had eight steals. PR-B did commit 18 turnovers to 15 for the Huskies but the Tigers enjoyed a 6-1 lead in blocks, including four by Ackerman.
Tatum Sheley finished with 11 points while Brittany Kelley and Ackerman had nine and Felthous eight. Kelley grabbed 12 rebounds while Ackerman had nine.
Isle 20 32 — 52
Pine River-Backus 31 29 — 60
Amber Zimpel 14, Andrea Zimpel 3, Morgan Voss 4, Tember Cooper 2, McKenzie Blood 12, Taylor Gulseth 9, Cassie Walters 8. FG 15-47 (32 percent). FT 17-25 (68 percent). 3-point: 5-19 (26 percent).
Kendra Brasel 21, Tatum Sheley 11, Brittany Kelley 9, Megan Felthous 8, Journee Howard 2, Autumn Ackerman 9. FG 21-52 (40 percent). FT 13-19 (68 percent). 3-point: 5-16 (31 percent).