MINNEAPOLIS -- Kelanna McClain played like a Warrior on Thursday.
The junior center called her pain excruciating, and yet, here she was, doing anything and everything she could for her Red Lake girls basketball team.
“I’ve played with these girls for 10 years, so it was pretty hard for me to just sit down and watch them lose,” McClain said. “I had to try my best to at least try to bring them back up a little bit.”
The Warriors lost a 57-37 Class A state quarterfinal game to top-seeded Minneota on Maturi Pavilion at the University of Minnesota on Thursday, but McClain’s above-and-beyond efforts didn’t go unnoticed.
McClain tweaked her back during the second half, enduring strong pinching with every step she took. She dealt with obvious pain from the bench.
“I was just waiting for her to tell me that she was ready,” Red Lake head coach Randy Holthusen said. “I looked down there a few times, and sure enough, she said, ‘I’m ready, Coach.’”
When McClain returned to the floor, her pain became more apparent. Yet, she was still the leading force for the Lady Warriors.
“She’s one of our leaders on the team,” Holthusen said. “She’s one of our main rebounders, one of our scorers, and she played a good game today. She never gave up, and I’m very proud of her.”
However, none of Red Lake’s offensive weapons had an answer for the Vikings (31-1) on Thursday. Though the Warriors (21-10) entered with the best scoring offense in Class A, they mustered a season-low 37 points for their lowest total since scoring 35 on March 8, 2016.
“(They had) a lot of help defense. Way more than we’ve seen in other teams up in the North,” McClain said. “We finally started working together, more than we did in the first half. We were able to share the ball more and knock down a couple shots. But not all of them.”
Red Lake shot 14-for-63 (22.2%) on the game. Even though he didn’t feel outmatched, Holthusen knows that’s not a recipe for success.
“I don’t see them as a better team than us. We just made some mistakes,” he said. “We didn’t stick with the game plan. I think we got a little tired, and tired led to mental mistakes. We couldn’t get back on defense. Shooting (poorly) from the 3-point line didn’t help either.”
Minneota showed discipline on defense, leading to the Warriors’ mighty struggles early. An 8-0 Vikings run had Red Lake tripled up at 21-7 late in the first half, and though the Warrior offense finally gained traction in the final four minutes, a 30-14 halftime deficit was the consequence.
Minneota opened up a 20-point spread two minutes into the second half. Red Lake then found a second wind, however, fueled by an 11-3 run that Autumn Holthusen and Gerika Kingbird highlighted by assisting each other with pinpoint passes that led to layups.
Two Karen Guise free throws finished the spurt and made for a 37-25 game with 12:34 remaining, but the Warriors never cut any closer.
“They’re good, but I thought we’re a better team,” coach Holthusen said. “We just didn’t show it today. I was hoping we’d play one of our best games of the year, but it didn’t show up. That’s just how it goes sometimes.”
McClain led Red Lake with 11 points in the scorebook. Autumn Holthusen had seven points and a team-high 13 rebounds alongside another six points from Lashun Roy. Abby Hennen put up 23 points and 14 boards for Minneota.
The Minnesota State High School League also announced postgame that all consolation games have been canceled due to coronavirus concerns. The decision unceremoniously ended the careers of 10 Red Lake seniors: Emma Kingbird, Kaylynn Chaboyea, Elise White, Brisenia Bravo, Marlene Blue, Daisey Nelson, Adriah Sayers, Gerika Kingbird, Autumn Holthusen and Roy.
No. 1 Minneota 57, Red Lake 37
RL 14 23 -- 37
MIN 30 27 -- 57
RED LAKE (21-10) -- K. McClain 11, Holthusen 7, Roy 6, Guise 4, R. McClain 4, G. Kingbird 3, Chaboyea 2.
MINNEOTA (31-1) -- A. Hennen 23, Rolbiecki 10, Stassen 8, Rost 6, M. Hennen 4, Rost 4, Yost 2.