There are some losses that just don’t sit well with a team.
For the Maple Valley girls, it was their lone loss of the year, 63-57 in overtime at home against Valley City Jan. 3.
“We’d been been thinking (about it),” said Maple Valley eighth grader Rylee Nudell. “We wanted a rematch ever since we played them last time.”
Saturday at the W.E. Osmon Fieldhouse, the Raiders got their rematch with Hi-Liners and made sure the sequel turned out differently. This time, Maple Valley got the 52-46 win and took home the Barnes County Tournament championship.
The Raiders finished seventh in last year’s tournament.
“A lot of credit to Maple Valley. From the moment the game started they had their game going,” said Valley City coach Jim McDaniel. “They were intense, they were determined, they had it in their eye that they were going to win.”
In the game, the Hi-Liners were constantly forced to play catch-up.
Megan Kawsowski hit a long two-pointer to give the Raiders a 2-0 lead early, which was then matched by a layup by Allyson Suhr two minutes in.
Maple Valley then had a balanced attack the rest of the quarter from Kasowski, Nudell, Ashley Punton and a buzzer beating layup by Abbie Tinjum that made the game 13-8 after one.
But in the second quarter, Valley City worked its way back behind 3-pointers by Mariah Olstad and Tori Enstad combined with post play from Derria Diegel, Amanda Tangen and Suhr.
By halftime, Maple Valley’s lead was down to 27-26, and Valley City took a 28-27 lead early in the second half on a layup by Suhr. Olstad hit a midrange two-pointer to make it 30-27.
Maple Valley then got on a run behind an aggressive defense that gave the Raiders points off steals by Nudell and Cassie Pautz. Nudell also had points stemming from put-backs following offensive rebounds to go up 38-32.
Offensively, Valley City struggled to finish shots and Maple Valley’s defense worked to keep the ball out of the paint. The aggressive defense led to steals from guards and post players alike.
“Our goal coming out of halftime was to limit them to one shot (per possession) on offense and I think we did a very, very good job of doing that,” Maple Valley coach Jeff Miler said. “We try not to give up layups, we try to force the other team to shoot from the outside and we try to limit them to one shot. We did that and then we were able to get a few buckets and get the momentum and build a little lead there.”
Nudell and Pautz got points in the fourth quarter to increase the lead to 48-38.
As the clock go closer to the end and the win seemed within grasp, Miller used late timeouts to keep his team focused and avoid a last minute run by the Hi-Liners.
“I just told them don’t play not to lose,” Miller said. “If you start doing that, you start trying not to make mistakes and that’s when mistakes happen.”
The Raiders closed out the game by hitting four of their last six free throws.
Maple Valley was led in scoring by Nudell with 16 points. Pautz had 11.
Olstad finished with 16, including four 3-pointers, which led Valley City. Suhr had eight points.