Thief River Falls avenged an earlier loss at Grand Rapids with an 80-72 upset victory Friday night at the Brickhouse. Grand Rapids entered the game with the number five ranking in Minnesota Class 3A and a 20-3 record.
Head Coach Jeff Loe called the eight-point win the best effort his team has put forth this year.
“From start to finish the girls worked extremely hard,” Loe said. “Last game, we focused too much on their guard Heaven Hamling and allowed other girls to beat us. Our effort was so much better the second time around and we went straight man-to-man and simply challenged the girls to be responsible for their girl.”
The man-to-man defense meant that Allie Okeson would have the difficult assignment of guarding Hamling. Okeson still had some help with Hamling, but not at the expense of shutting down the other four players on the floor.
“She ended up with 32 points, but she had to work hard to get it,” Loe said of Hamling. “She made six of their eight three point shots.”
We had good balance scoring as well,” Loe noted. “Kylea with 31 points, eight assist and six boards is a good night for her, T with 17 points, Allie with 12 and Alexa with 8. We need that kind of balance every night.”
Grand Rapids scored the game’s first points, but Thief River Falls quickly took control. The Prowlers led by as many as 15 points in the first half before Grand Rapids began to battle back.
The Thunderhawks went on a 14-1 run to cut Thief River Falls lead to 28-26 with 4:35 left in the first half. The Prowlers answered the timely timeout by going on a 14-4 run and closing out the half up 42-30.
Grand Rapids opened the second half on a 9-2 run to cut Thief River Falls’ lead to 44-39.
Thief River Falls snuffed out the Thunderhawk rally with an 12-4 run to make it 56-43.
Grand Rapids battled back with a 10-1 run to make it 57-53. The Prowler lead would fluctuate between four and nine points over the next eight minutes.
Grand Rapids continued to chip away at the lead and trailed 67-64 with just over five minutes remaining in the game. The Thunderhawks went to strong full-court press in the last five minutes. The press forced the Prowlers to use some timeouts to avoid five-second violations. It also led to some easy scores after turnovers.
Trailing by five, with less than four minutes remaining in the game, Grand Rapids used the press to force a turnover that resulted in an easy score and a 69-66 deficit.
After the teams traded scores, the Prowlers beat the Thunderhawk full-court press to take a 73-69 lead.
Grand Rapids responded with a three-pointer that made it 73-72 with 1:23 left.
Grand Rapids was forced to foul on each possession from that point on, however, and the Prowlers made seven of eight free throw attempts to close out the Thunderhawks 80-72.
1 2 T
Grand Rapids 30 42 72
Thief River Falls 42 38 80
Grand Rapids -Giana Roberts 8, Heaven Hamling 32, Hannah DeMars 16, Maggie Miska 2, Meara Beighly 6, Jordin McCartney 4, Kaylee Grabarkewitz 4.
TRF – Allison Okeson 12, Kylea Praska 31, Alexa Rogalla 8, Bailey Greene 8, Tiahna Nicholson 17.