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Published March 16 2010

Girls basketball: 28-0 a Nugget gem, Gottenborg’s Hawley girls perfect heading into state

After coaching for 24 years, Bill Gottenborg has seen pretty much everything.

But this trip to state has even the Hawley girls basketball coach bubbling like one of his players.

Friday’s overtime win over East Grand Forks kept the Nuggets undefeated and sent them back to state for the first time since 2005.

“Watching them come from behind and seeing how badly they wanted it, that never gets old,” Gottenborg said. “It’s a special opportunity to play in games like that, and that’s why you play. You want to get to this stage.”

Hawley will take on Minnehaha Academy in Wednesday’s first round, with tipoff scheduled for 8 p.m. at Target Center in Minneapolis.

Jessy Noreen’s free throw with three-tenths of a second left in regulation forced overtime against the Green Wave.

But even that was a touchy moment, as she missed her first of two free throws – putting the Hawley season down to just one charity shot.

“I was nervous, but I was confident,” Noreen said. “I looked at (Gottenborg), and he settled me right down. I knew I was going to do it.

“I looked at my team, and I knew they were depending on me.”

This Hawley team sits 28-0 on the season, and the Nuggets get things done with youth and balance.

Just take a look at Friday’s section championship.

Laure Olson and Erica Amann set the tone by forcing the bulk of East Grand Forks’ 19 turnovers. Allie Sannes chipped in 12 points, with 10 coming in the second half.

Amy Stoa had a key three-point play in the final 30 seconds, and – of course – Noreen scored 13 points, including the big free throw.

“When you have one or two kids that you rely on, they can get shut down,” Gottenborg said. “We have a bunch of girls that can all put the ball into the basket.

“We’re able to run a lot of different things to get a bunch of girls to score.”

Friday’s section championship was really the first close game the Nuggets have had this season, but it came at a perfect time, Noreen said.

“A game like that should help us out because now we know we can handle that situation,” Noreen said. “Every girl was calm and stepped up their game when we needed it.

“Now we’re going to state, and that’s what we dreamed about.”

Noreen added that one of the goals for the team going into the season was an unblemished record.

This is the first time in Gottenborg’s 24 years that he went through a regular season without a loss, and he’s hoping that continues one more week.

“You never think you’re going to go undefeated,” Gottenborg said. “And this whole season has been a surprise. I don’t think a lot of people thought we would even come out of the section at the beginning of the year.

“But this is fun. This is a fun group that has really come together. They have the expectation to win when they step out there.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kerry Collins at (701) 241-5548