Grand Rapids girls claim Section 7AAA title | High School
GRAND RAPIDS – After a slow start, things got better and better for the girls ‘basketball team at Grand Rapids High School on Thursday night in the championship game of the 7AAA girls’ basketball tournament.
The Thunderhawks fought offensively in the first half when they fell back between 21 and 15 by two minutes in the first half. Up to halfway through, Grand Rapids managed to reduce the Chisago Lakes lead to 23:19.
Then the Thunderhawks took the lead at 13:57 in the game and never gave up when they stamped their ticket to a berth in the Minnesota Class AAA Girls State basketball tournament with a 58-48 win over the Wildcats in action in the game at Grand Rapids High School High school.
Grand Rapids head coach Kris Hamling said the Thunderhawks were nervous about starting the game but she said things started clicking as soon as the nervousness subsided.
“Halfway through we talked about what we needed to fix and it just calmed us down and played our game,” said Hamling. “We didn’t know much about Chisago Lakes and wow, they are a great team. They put up some good screens and had a good presence inside just making sure we were communicating.
“We had three or four people with four fouls, that’s a first for us. It affects how we can defend our duties and we had to slack off a little knowing we didn’t want to get that other foul. “
Coach Hamling said it felt good to return to the state tournament after a two-year hiatus.
“It’s great and it’s just a start for this group of kids,” said coach Hamling, who added that the Thunderhawks only finish one senior in Jenny Bowman. “That group of kids without Jenny, we’re coming back strong.”
Bowman, the only senior in the Thunderhawks, added, “We have worked for this all year. We knew from the start that this was our goal and we achieved it. “
In his sophomore year, Taryn Hamling said, “It feels fantastic. I’m so excited. We were nervous at the beginning and we knew we were safer on offense and we knew we needed to play better defense overall.
“We’re all so excited and so happy that we can move on.”
After the Thunderhawks took the lead, they led the game with 38:29 and 9:18 in the game by nine points. But Chisago Lakes resisted and finally tied the Thunderhawks with 43:43 on a bucket from Kaitlyn Wille with 4:33.
In Grand Rapids, however, this seemed to trigger something, as there was then an eight-point run. Kyra Giffen took a free throw to give Grand Rapids the final lead and freshman Braya LaPlant followed with two baskets – one of which was a 3-pointer – while the Thunderhawks were still up 49-43 at 2:45. Bowman added another basket for the T’Hawks when Rapids led left 51-43 at 1:39.
Chisago Lakes failed to overcome the huge deficit when the Thunderhawks won their championship in the first section since 2018.
Giffen continued her clutch outside of shooting when she linked two 3-pointers and led Grand Rapids by 13 points, and she added four steals. LaPlant finished with 12 points and four steals, while Hamling had 10 points and three steals. Bowman also had 10 points and she added seven boards and three steals while Jessika Lofstrom had seven points and seven rebounds. Kate Jamtgaard had six points and five rebounds.
Sophie Wood scored 17 points to speed up Chisago Lakes. Greta Gillach scored 11, Emma Bjelland eight and Kaitlyn Wille scored five.
Coach Hamling said scoring an all-round goal on the team was a big goal of the season and it was evident against Chisago Lakes on Thursday night.
“We all had to score and we did that consistently this year,” said coach Hamling. “I think the Keys eliminated our sales and made sure we made good passes and that we didn’t panic with their press. They had a great press. “
When asked what she thought was the key to Thunderhawk victory, Bowman said, “We started moving the ball more, we saw each other, and we got that connection. It feels great to be a section master. “
It was not known who or where Grand Rapids will play in the first round of the state tournament due to the COVID issues. Coach Hamling said the Thunderhawks will play on Tuesday and the information will come in on Saturday morning.
“Right now, just because COVID hit us and we couldn’t play some of the teams we normally play in the cities and in our section in the south, it’s going to be difficult,” Hamling said of the state tournament. “These teams could play tougher teams so we have to be prepared.”
She believes that Becker and Hill-Murray are two teams that should be considered favorites in the state tournament.
“We just have to make sure we’re playing defense, playing our game, sticking together and trying to eliminate sales.”
Taryn Hamling added, “We don’t expect it to be easy at all. We know that we have to do our best every minute of every game. We have to play together and work as a team. We also need positive attitudes. “
Chisago Lakes: Emma Bjelland 8, Ryana Barrett 4, Kaitlyn Wille 5, Greta Gillach 11, Emily Erickson 3, Sophie Wood 17.
Grand Rapids: Kate Jamtgaard 6, Kyra Giffen 13, Braya LaPlant 12, Jessika Lofstrom 7, Taryn Hamling 10, Jenny Bowman 10.
Total fouls: GR, 19; Fouled Out: Lofstrom; Free Throws: GR 15 of 25; 3-hand: CL, Bjelland, Gillach, Erickson; GR, Giffen 2, LaPlant, Hamling 2.
GRAND RAPIDS – The Thunderhawks were up double digits in the middle of the second quarter, but Hermantown made a late run to finish the game.
But the Thunderhawks converted on 17 of their 23 free throw attempts and were able to hold the Hawks back in a 62-56 win.
A 3-pointer from Hermantown’s Emma Bjelland with 14 seconds left pulled the Hawks to 57-56. A three point game by Jessika Lofstrom iced up the game for the Thunderhawks and sent them to the championship game.
Lofstrom finished with 18 points while Kyra Giffen lost three 3-point points and scored 11 points. Taryn Hamling also scored 11, while Braya LaPlant added nine, Jenny Bowman eight and Kate Jamtgaard added five.
Elly Schmitz had 19 points for Hermantown. Marsha Christianson scored 15, Liv Birkeland three 3-points and 11, and Avery Farrell six.
Hermantown: Avery Farrell 6, Liv Birkeland 11, Marsha Christianson 15, Lauryn Biondi 4, Elly Schmitz 19.
Grand Rapids: Kate Jamtgaard 5, Kyra Giffen 11, Braya LaPlant 9, Jessika Lofstrom 18, Taryn Hamling 11, Jenny Bowman 8.
Total fouls: H, 21; GR, 12; Fouled Out: None; Free Throws: H, 7 of 13; GR 17 of 23; 3-pointer: H, Farrell, Birkeland 3, Christianson, Schmitz; GR, Giffen 3, LaPlant, Hamling.