THIEF RIVER FALLS - Grace White’s 19 points were not enough for the Red Lake girls basketball team Tuesday night, as the Warriors lost 53-35 to Fosston in the Section 8A East Sub-Section Final at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Turnovers were a challenge early in the contest as the Greyhounds (23-6) took a 15-3 lead in the first seven minutes, never to relinquish it.
“We didn’t play our game, we played Fosston’s game,” Red Lake head coach Randy Holthusen said. “We knew they were coming out with high pressure and everything and it just seems like we weren’t mentally focused before the game, you know what I mean. And that kind of cost us the game there by not being prepared. Just individual preparation, we just didn’t have it tonight. It wasn’t our night.”
Emily Curfman found much success in driving to the rim for the Greyhounds, accounting for 12 of her team’s first half points.
The Fosston lead grew to as many as 18 points when a Curfman layup made it a 26-8 game with 5:40 remaining in the half.
Successive baskets by Grace White, including a much-needed three-pointer, got Red Lake (22-4) back to within 13 points at 26-13 with two minutes to go.
But another lay-in by Curfman made the score 28-13 at halftime.
The Greyhounds’ defense brought the Warriors to a halt, preventing the team from getting anything going on offense.
“We’ve been stressing defensively that we need to play together and play sound defense and we saw that tonight,” Fosston head coach Kelly Viken said. “They got some tough matchups for us. It’s not just one-on-one when you’re playing man defense. It’s all five girls working together playing sound defense on the floor.”
Curfman scored 12 first-half points for the Greyhounds while Grace White led Red Lake with 10 points.
Nearly every time Red Lake was able to make a shot, Fosston answered right back with two of their own. The Greyhounds extended their lead further in the second half, eventually going up by as many as 26 points with 4:30 to go in the game.
Curfman finished with 18 points for the Greyhounds, while Abby Swanson tallied 16 points.
“Abby (Swanson) has been starting for three-and-a-half years now and has been very steady and has just gotten better and better every year,” Viken said. “(She’s) very athletic, very strong inside, and can handle the basketball. Emily Curfman is just a workhorse. She had a very tough matchup with Grace White tonight, and she had some help from her teammates too, but Emily really did a phenomenal job defensively.”
White led all scorers with 19 points, scoring more than half of Red Lake’s points.
“I believe she’s probably one of the top-10 players in Minnesota and it showed tonight,” Holthusen said. “We try to put a lot of our stuff on her back. You can’t beat a team with only one player but she played tremendous tonight and I’m very proud of her.”
Red Lake finishes the season with only four losses, but Holthusen says the team’s record does not mean much in the postseason.
“Overall, it was a good season but the record doesn’t matter in the playoffs,” he said. “We’re all 0-0 and what matters is the person that plays the hardest and the person that plays the strongest, they will advance. I give my hats off to Fosston. They played a really tough game against us tonight and they’re well-deserving to be in the championship.”
The Greyhounds are now a win away from going to the state tournament.
“It would be unbelievable,” Viken said of a state tournament appearance. “A dream come true for these girls. I know that’s a goal of theirs to get there. They’ve worked very hard and are a very great group of girls.”
Earlier in the evening, Sacred Heart beat Stephen-Argyle 71-63 in the 8A West Sub-Section Final at Thief River Falls. Fosston will face the Eagles for the Section 8A title on Friday at 7 p.m. at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Fosston 53, Red Lake 35
FHS 28 25 - 53
RL 13 22 - 35
Fosston - Curfman 18, Swanson 16, Non 8, T. Hubbard 7, J. Hubbard 4
Red Lake - White 19, Desjarlait 5, S. Roy 4, S. Beaulieu 4, McClain 3