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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Stephen-Argyle claims 8A crown with 56-49 win over Red Lake

The Red Lake Warriors lament their loss to Stephen-Argyle Central in the Section 8A championship game Friday at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)1 / 7
The Red Lake Warriors cheer from the bench during the Section 8A championship game against Stephen-Argyle Central Friday at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)2 / 7
Red Lake freshman Kelanna McClain (35) grabs a rebound in the first half of the Section 8A championship game against Stephen-Argyle Central Friday at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)3 / 7
Red Lake sophomore Daisey Nelson (24) makes a drive in the first half of the Section 8A championship game against Stephen-Argyle Central Friday at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)4 / 7
Red Lake sophomore Autumn Holthusen (30) looks for a pass in the Section 8A championship game against Stephen-Argyle Central Friday at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)5 / 7
Red Lake junior Angel McClain (20) scores a three-pointer in the first half of the Section 8A championship game against Stephen-Argyle Central Friday at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)6 / 7
Red Lake senior Alexis Desjarlait (12) scores in the first half of the Section 8A championship game against Stephen-Argyle Central Friday at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)7 / 7

THIEF RIVER FALLS -- When Gerika Kingbird hit a 3-pointer to bring the Red Lake girls basketball team back into a 47-47 tie with Stephen-Argyle in the Section 8A championship, momentum was shifting in favor of the Warriors.

But after a 49-49 deadlock, it was the Storm who stole it back, fending off the defending section champs with a 7-0 closing run and claiming the 8A crown in a thrilling 56-49 win at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls Friday.

The post-game jubilation poured out from the Stephen-Argyle sidelines once the clock hit triple zeros, clinching its first trip to the state tournament since 2014-15 and just its second in program history.

“I felt that we had opportunities the last couple years, but because of sickness and injuries, we weren’t able to get where we wanted to go,” Storm head coach Dan Lindgren said. “This year, we were able to be healthy, so I’m like, ‘We’ve got a shot. We’ve got a shot at this.’ I’m very happy with what the girls put out today.”

The Warrior bench, meanwhile, was hit with a different feeling.

“We had wide open looks, we just didn’t convert on them,” Red Lake head coach Randy Holthusen said. “That’s just the way it is. Some of those wide open looks, if we knock those down, it’d probably be a different game. But my hat goes off to Stephen-Argyle. They played a (good) game. Section 8 will be well represented in the state tournament.”

The emotions -- on both sides -- finally boiled over at game’s end, but they had been building since tipoff.

The teams traded blows back and forth early on, until the Storm (27-3) grabbed the first two-possession lead at 11-7 when Abi McGlynn finished an and-one transition basket. A 9-0 run pushed the difference to 24-16 on a McGlynn coast-to-coast layup, but the Warriors (27-4) kept pace through Alexis Desjarlait.

The senior guard scored six straight to hold Red Lake in contention, down just 27-22 by halftime.

Stephen-Argyle stormed ahead out of the break, though, claiming a 34-22 advantage with a 7-0 run to start the second half. But at a potential detrimental point in the game, the Warriors again clawed back into it.

Autumn Holthusen pulled the Warriors back within two, 40-38, on a 3-pointer midway through the half. The scoreboard stayed tight for the final nine minutes, culminating in a 47-all tie on Kingbird’s three with 2 minutes, 45 seconds remaining.

Red Lake Nation erupted in a deafening roar.

“We were just trying to get some defensive stops, one possession at a time, which we did,” coach Holthusen said. “We tied it up there with two minutes left, and just like we were telling the girls: it’s just one possession at a time.”

Missed shots and turnovers piled up too high on the Warriors, however, forcing them into fouling situations late. Autumn Thompson was perfect from the charity stripe in the final 2:31, going 8-for-8 and punching Stephen-Argyle’s ticket to the state tournament with the 56-49 win.

“Fortunately we were able to stay ahead. That was the key,” Lindgren said. “(This win) goes to everybody… I just said, ‘It’s there for you. You’ve got to want it.’ Well, they wanted it.”

Angel McClain led Red Lake with 17 points, while Autumn Holthusen added 10. For the Storm, McGlynn and Thompson split the team lead with 17 apiece, and Madalynn Weberg added another 12.

“I’m proud of our girls no matter what,” Holthusen said. “We showed a lot of resiliency in the second half… That shows a lot about heart in these girls. They never quit.

“Hopefully next time we’ll be in this situation, next year. We’ve got a lot of young girls on our team. The future looks bright for Red Lake.”

Stephen-Argyle 56, Red Lake 49

RL 22 27 -- 49

SA 27 29 -- 56

Red Lake scorers: A. McClain 17, Holthusen 10, Desjarlait 8, Kingbird 7, K. McClain 7.

Stephen-Argyle scorers: McGlynn 17, Thompson 17, M. Weberg 12, Riopelle 6, A. Johnson 4.

Micah Friez

Micah Friez is a sports reporter for the Echo Press in Alexandria. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Alexandria area sports updates and jokes he thinks are funny.

(320) 763-1230
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