BEMIDJI – If you are not in peak physical condition, don’t challenge the Red Lake girls basketball team.
“We try to pressure the ball at all times and we try to create turnovers. It’s the same old Red Lake brand of basketball – run it down your throat until you show that you can stop us,” said Warriors coach Randy Holthusen.
Red Lake employed that style Thursday in the East Sub-Section 8A quarterfinals at Bemidji State University and on this night Lake of the Woods couldn’t maintain the pace. Red Lake cruised to a 67-32 victory and, for the first time in the program’s history, the Warriors advanced in the postseason.
All associated with Red Lake girls basketball will remember this season. The Warriors opened the year with six victories and that start propelled Red Lake to its current 15-5 record.
“This is the first winning season in girls basketball history at Red Lake,” Holthusen said. “And this was our first playoff win.
“It also was one of the few times when we put together two good halves of basketball. If we can play this well on offense and defense the rest of the way we could be a dangerous team in the playoffs,” the coach added.
Red Lake’s recipe for success was easy to understand. Stopping it, however, proved to be impossible for the Bears.
Lake of the Woods couldn’t penetrate Red Lake’s combination of zone and man-to-man defenses and the Bears continually misfired from the outside. When that happened, Red Lake immediately shifted from defense to a high-octane offense.
Wasting no time the Warriors raced down the court and more often than not either made a basket or drew a foul.
With 13:16 remaining in the first half Red Lake led only 6-3. But eight minutes later the No. 2 seeded Warriors exploded to a 27-3 advantage.
Lake of the Woods notched its first basket with 4:30 to go in the half when Tate Moeller scored on an in-bounds play but Red Lake ended the half on a 10-4 run and owned a convincing 37-9 lead at the break.
“I actually thought that we were a little lazy at times Thursday when it came to covering the shooter,” Holthusen said. “Sometimes we were late getting out on the shooter and we can’t let that happen.
“But offensively we played very well,” the coach continued.
“We always try to penetrate and drive into the teeth of the defense. If they collapse on us then we kick it out.”
Red Lake’s main weapons when the Warriors opted for the kick-out were Averi Holthusen and Faleisha Desjarlait. Holthusen scored 23 points, 12 of them the result of four 3-pointers. Desjarlait also was hot from the outside, nailing three buckets from beyond the arc.
Grace White was among Red Lake’s main inside weapons as the eighth grader contributed 17 points, eight of them coming from the free throw line.
Tatianna McClain also had a productive night, scoring 14 points.
“We started out the season 6-0 but then Pelican Rapids put us in our place (Red Lake lost 89-32),” the coach said. “But we wanted to improve our schedule. I wouldn’t mind playing Pelican Rapids 10 times because that would get us ready for tournament games.
“I think this team can go as far as the players want to go,” Holthusen continued. “The kids are young and everything the rest of the year will be new to them. But they got their first tournament win and now they have a taste of winning in the playoffs.”
Red Lake’s reward for Thursday’s victory is a sub-section semifinal test 1:45 p.m. Saturday against Fosston at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls.
Fosston defeated Cass Lake-Bena 52-35 Thursday at BSU.
Saturday’s noon game at REA will pit top-seeded Clearbrook-Gonvick against Mahnomen.
Thursday at Bagley High School C-G defeated eighth-seeded Blackduck 81-32 and No. 5 Mahnomen tripped No. 4 Kelliher-Northome 56-38.
Esther Kjolhaug scored 15 points, Brittany Wagner had 14 and Rebekah Kjolhaug 13 to power the Bears. Alex Arp tallied 14 and Tatum Mistic 10 for Blackduck.
Kelliher-Northome was led by Katey Lutz who had 15 points. Shelene Head contributed 11.
Saturday’s winners will return to the REA 6 p.m. Tuesday for the sub-section title game.
Red Lake 67, LOW 32
Red Lake (67): A.Desjarlait 0, 0-0, 0; Mountain 0, 2-2, 2; Roy 1, 0-0, 2; F.Desjarlait 3, 0-0, 9; White 4, 8-10, 17; Holthusen 7, 5-7, 23; Benais 0, 0-0, 0; McClain 6, 2-4, 14. Totals: 21, 17-23, 67
Lake of the Woods (32): Laine 3, 0-0, 7; Moeller 2, 10-15, 14; Poolman 1, 0-0, 2; Stanton 1, 4-4, 6; Stokke 1, 0-4, 2; Draper 0, 1-2, 1. Totals: 8, 15-25, 32
3-point FG: Red Lake 8, Lake of the Woods 1
Fouls: Red Lake 17, Lake of the Woods 17
Halftime: Red Lake 37, Lake of the Woods 9
Clearbrook-Gonvick 81, Blackduck 32
Clearbrook-Gonvick (81): E.Kholhaug 15, Faldet 8, R.Kjolhaug 13, Wagner 14, Spray 9, K. McIntosh 3, Burgess 7, Spray 2, L.McIntosh 4, Stenzel 4, Watne 2.
Blackduck (32): Pfannenstein 4, Mistic 10, Arp 14, Radke 2, Sparby 2
Mahnomen 56, Kelliher-Northome 38
Kelliher-Northome (38): Salmanson 3, Lutz 15, K.Heck 4, S.Heck 1, Carrigan 4, Head 11
Mahnomen (56): Wadena 4, Steinmetz 2, Lundon 5, Porter 12, Kersting 15, Schoenborn 18
Saturday’s 8A East Semifinals
REA, Thief River Falls
Clearbrook-Gonvick vs. Mahnomen, noon
Red Lake vs. Fosston, 1:45 p.m.
8A East Final
March 5, REA
Clearbrook-Gonvick-Mahnomen winner vs. Red Lake-Fosston winner, 6 p.m.