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Chris Harrell / Forum Communications Co., Published March 14 2012

Fergus Falls cruises to victory at Minnesota state girls basketball tournament

MINNEAPOLIS – Sophomore Brianna Rasmusson knocked down shots early and often for the Fergus Falls girls basketball team as the Otters breezed past ninth-ranked Chisago Lakes 68-37 during the first round of the Minnesota Class 3A state girls basketball tournament at Williams Arena.

Rasmusson racked up 22 points and connected on 9 of 13 shots, including 4 of 5 3-pointers, to lead Fergus Falls (29-1) while senior Sydney Schultz scored 14 points. Sophomore Anna Monke tallied 10 points and senior Mariah Monke added 11 points. The Otters shot 50 percent from the field and made 10 of 17 3-pointers for the game.

“I think a lot of us shot with confidence today,” Schultz said. “Once you see the first one go in, you have that rhythm.”

Whitney Tinjum, a Washington State recruit, led Chisago Lakes (24-6) with 24 points and seven rebounds. She was the only Wildcats player to score in double figures as Fergus Falls held Chisago Lakes to 22.5 percent shooting for the game.

“Early on, aggressive defense was the key,” Otters head coach Josh Mohagen said. “There’s no fear. We’re in attack mode on defense. They play so unselfishly.”

The Wildcats scored first, but Fergus Falls wasted little time finding its shooting touch. During a nine-minute stretch, the Otters held Chisago Lakes scoreless and went on a 24-0 run to lead 35-8 with 5 minutes, 13 seconds left in the first half.

“We all knew we had to come out and take it to them right away,” Rasmusson said. “They were falling for us tonight.”

Rasmusson and the Otters kept the pressure on and led 44-18 at halftime. Rasmusson scored 18 points in the opening half and Fergus Falls forced 12 turnovers.

Tinjum scored six points in the first three minutes of the second half during an 8-3 run by the Wildcats but the Otters held Chisago Lakes without a field goal for the next 11 minutes to balloon the lead to 68-28 with 4:58 remaining in regulation. Fergus Falls removed their starters at that point and coasted to victory.

The Wildcats made four field goals the entire second half.

The Otters finished with 25 points off the Wildcats’ 19 turnovers and scored 12 second-chance points.

With multiple players capable of putting up big numbers – five players average more than eight points per game for Fergus Falls – the Wildcats were unable to focus on Rasmusson even as she heated up.

“It’s nice having everyone on the floor able to score at one time,” Rasmusson said.

Last year’s section playoff loss stung, Rasmusson said, and the Otters are using it as motivation. Now, with four seniors leading the way, Fergus Falls has what it takes to make a run for the state title, she said.

“Last year, we lost to go to state and that left a sour taste in our mouths,” Rasmusson said. “We just have to come with the same intensity and play like it’s our last game.”

It was the type of start the Otters hoped for coming into the state tournament, but Schultz said the team is careful not to be overconfident with a possible matchup against top-ranked DeLaSalle.

“(Our confidence) is pretty high, but we don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves,” Schultz said. “We just want to play our game.”

Fergus Falls plays in the semifinals at 2 p.m. today at the Target Center.

CL (24-6): Trandahl 2 0-0 4, Tinjum 6 10-13 24, Land 0 0-2 0, Fernstrom 0 6-6 6, Stenson 1 0-0 2. Totals 9 16-21 37.

FF (29-1): Schultz 5 0-0 14, Rasmusson 9 0-0 22, Zenner 2 0-0 4, A. Monke 4- 1-2 10, M. Monke 4 3-4 11, Ouren 1 0-0 2, Swenson 0 2-2 2, Capouch 1 0-0 3. Totals 26 6-9 68.

Half: FF 44, CL 18. 3-point goals: Tinjum 2, Stenson 1, Schultz 4, Rasmusson 4, A. Monke, Capouch. Total fouls: CL 12, FF 17. Rebounds: CL 28 (Tinjum 7), FF 32 (Zenner 9). Assists: CL 5 (Hansen, Fernstrom 2), FF 12 (Schultz 4). Steals: CL 6 (Tinjum 2), FF 11 (Zenner 4). Turnovers: CL 19, FF 11.

Harrell writes for the Red Wing Republican Eagle

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