Lyle-Pacelli girls knock off Southland

Published 9:39 pm Thursday, February 23, 2017

The No. 2 seeded Lyle-Pacelli girls basketball team opened the postseason with a big surge of energy and it went on to beat No. 7 Southland 66-35 in a Section 1A West quarterfinal in Pacelli Thursday.

The Athletics (21-6 overall) jumped out to a 28-3 run over the first 11 minutes of the game as Kristi Fett, who had 22 points and six rebounds, and Bethany Strouf, who finished with nine points and five assists, did a lot of damage early on.

“Our energy in the playoffs is always there and then when the crowd gets into it, the nerves go away,” said Strouf, a senior who was playing in her last career game in Pacelli gym.

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LP head coach Justin Morris said he wanted to make sure his team came out with plenty of intensity against the Rebels (7-15 overall).

“That’s a good basketball team and they’re a better team than their record indicates,” Morris said. “They’re well coached and we knew we were going to get their best shot because its a rivalry game. We had to come out right away and play with intensity, focus and emotion.”

Brooke Walter added eight points, three rebounds, four assists and five steals for LP and Olivia Christianson had 12 points, six rebounds and five assists. Christianson wanted to make sure LP picked up a win for its three seniors — Strouf, Caitlin Roberts and Danielle Hinz — who were playing their last home game.

“We really wanted to put it on them and shut them down right away,” Christianson said. “We wanted to play hard for [our seniors], Beth Caitlin and Daniel.”

After falling behind by 25 points early on, the Rebels were able to battle back within 28-11 when McKendry Kennedy hit a three-pointer with 4:46 left in the second half. But the slow start proved to be too much of a deficit for Southland to make up.

“When we played PEM we got off to a great start and hit our shots,” Southland head coach Dean Bendtsen said. “We knew if we could do that tonight, we could make a game of it, but we’ve done this so many times were we can’t make a shot and it changes the game. I think our nerves just got to us and everything we kind of planned went out the door in those first few minutes.”

Southland’s Gabrielle Smith gets the block on Lyle-Pacelli’s Bethany Strouf during the first half of the Section 1A West Division playoff game Thursday night at Pacelli. Eric Johnson/

Southland’s Gabrielle Smith gets the block on Lyle-Pacelli’s Bethany Strouf during the first half of the Section 1A West Division playoff game Thursday night at Pacelli. Eric Johnson/

Southland was led by senior Kaysie Allen, who had 13 points and Bendtsen said it was tough to see another season come to an end.

“We’ve got a great classy group of kids and you spend so much time with them,” Bendtsen said. “I hate to see the season end. Nobody’s hanging their head. We’re all proud.”

The Athletics will now play Grand Meadow in Mayo Civic Center 7:30 p.m. Tuesday 7:30 pm. The Athletics swept the regular season series from the Superlarks.

LP beefed up its schedule this season so it would be prepared for the postseason and Morris thinks that move has paid off.

“Our hope was we’d be playing our basketball at the end of the year. I think we are,” Morris said. “Our activity level is so high right now defensively and even on the boards. Our spacing is great, we’re attacking the rim and we’re getting post touches. That’s a recipe for winning.”

Southland 16  19    35

LP 40  26    66

LP scoring: Kristi Fett, 22; Olivia Christianson, 12; Bethany Strouf, 9; Brooke Walter, 8; Abby Bollingberg, 5; Caitlin Roberts, 3; Danielle Hinz, 2; rebounds: 35 (Fett, 6; Christianson, 6); free throws: 60 percent (9-for-15); turnovers: 16

Southland scoring: Kaysie Allen, 13; Gabby Smith, 10; McKendry Kennedy, 3; Allison Bottema, 2; Brianna Johnson, 2; Lexi Smith, 2; Morgan Brown, 2; Lilly Riddles, 1; free throws: 50 percent (3-for-6); rebounds: 22; turnovers: 22