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Chris Harrell / Forum News Service, Published March 13 2013

Pelican Rapids girls lose at Minnesota Class 2A state basketball tourney

MINNEAPOLIS – A couple weeks ago, Mackenzie Korf told her dad – Pelican Rapids head coach Brian Korf – that she wanted to go watch New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva’s Carlie Wagner play at the Minnesota Class 2A girls state girls basketball tournament.

When the Vikings found out they drew a matchup with the Panthers in the first round of the state tournament at Williams Arena, Brian Korf had another directive.

“When we ended up playing them, I said, ‘You better not watch Wagner play. You better play defense on her,” he said. “(Mackenzie) was very excited for this night, for this game, and I thought she did a great job as a freshman handling the ball and actually scoring for us too tonight.”

“It was just amazing. I’ve always dreamed of playing here,” Mackenzie Korf said. “You watch (Wagner), and you want to learn from her, but getting to play against her is even better.”

Mackenzie Korf, a ninth-grader, finished the game with a team-high 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists but NR-H-E-G forced 27 turnovers and Wagner scored 31 points on the way to a 62-49 victory.

“Wagner’s a great player,” Brian Korf said, “and give her the credit, she was the difference in the game.”

Pelican Rapids’ Sommer Haugrud got the assignment of locking down Wagner in a box-and-1 zone defense, and for much of the game, she did. Wagner shot 12-for-28 and committed seven turnovers.

“She’s been our best defensive player, and we put her on their best offensive player,” Brian Korf said of Haugrud. “She’s feisty, and she’s not going to give up.”

“It’s hard to cut and get past somebody who has really quick feet, and she had really quick feet and good hands,” Wagner added.

The Vikings forced Wagner into a turnover on the first possession of the game.

Pelican Rapids took a 12-10 lead on a 3-pointer by Haugrud with 9 minutes, 41 seconds remaining in the first half, but Jade Schultz responded with a 3-pointer for the Panthers 20 seconds later. NR-H-E-G went up 19-14 at the 5:36 mark on a free throw by Katie Cole, and again the Vikings fought back to take a 23-22 lead on another 3-pointer by Haugrud.

“I was so proud of how we came out, because I was a little worried we’d back off and be a little scared,” Brian Korf said. “I knew we played good defense, and I knew we could give them a run.”

The score was tied 25-25 at halftime after Kendra Weinrich put back an offensive rebound at the buzzer for Pelican Rapids.

The Panthers were somewhat surprised by the Vikings output in the first half.

“We were expecting it. We knew they were a really scrappy team, but it threw us for a loop because they were scrappier than we thought,” Wagner said.

In the second half, NR-H-E-G’s athleticism wore down Pelican Rapids and Wagner took over in transition. Wagner scored 11 points in the final 6:39 of the game as the Panthers extended a 43-40 lead to 62-48 on a free throw by Wagner with 24 seconds remaining.

“I think maybe we panicked a little bit and tried to make some things happen to get back in it and rushed some things a little bit,” Brian Korf said. “They just never gave up through all these close games we had, I mean geez, toughness. It was a great season, but we were led by six great seniors.”

NRHEG (30-1): Lundberg 1-1 0-0 2, C. Wagner 12-28 7-11 31, Overgaard 1-5 1-2 3, Schultz 3-16 3-6 11, Cole 0-4 1-2 1, Mad. Wagner 5-9 1-2 12, Mar. 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 23-67 13-23 62.

PR (21-8): Mac. Korf 6-18 2-4 17, Haugrud 3-8 0-1 9, Mad. Korf 2-8 0-0 6, Weinrich 2-3 0-0 4, Huseby 2-3 2-2 6, Haiby 1-3 4-4 6, Spicer 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 16-43 9-13 49.

Half: NRHEG 25, PR 25. 3-pointers: NRHEG Schultz 2, Mad. Wagner; PR Mac. Korf 3, Haugrud 3, Mad. Korf 2. Total Fouls: NRHEG 15; PR 14. Rebounds: NRHEG 42 (Overgaard 11, Mad. Wagner 9); PR 38 (Mac. Korf 7, Huseby 7, Haiby 7). Assists: NRHEG 10 (Car. Wagner 4); PR 12 (Mac. Korf 6). Turnovers: NRHEG 10; PR 27.

Harrell writes for the Red Wing Republican-Eagle