Athletics outlast Cardinals in play-in game

Published 10:05 pm Tuesday, February 20, 2024

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LEROY – The No. 17 seeded Lyle-Pacelli girls basketball team found a way to double its season win total and keep its season alive when it gutted out a 51-49 victory over No. 16 LeRoy-Ostrander in a Section 1A play-in game Thursday night.

L-O’s Jenna Olson hit a three-pointer before Miranda Nagel hit two free throws to bring L-O within 51-49 with 30 seconds left, but Nagel missed a pair of shots in the paint with 14 seconds left as L-P was able to survive with the win.

L-P had trailed 44-43, but it scored the next eight points as freshman Maddi Klankowski hit two free throws and converted a drive and junior Lexi Lewis hit two free throws and hit a runner to make it 51-44 with 1:55 left in the game.

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“(Maddi and Lexi) have been stepping up all season and they’ve been getting better and better,” said L-P head coach Lee Bauer. “Lexi has developed into a shooter and she’s become more confident and Madi is growing into a basketball player. She’s really playing well. Just two weeks ago we lost here in overtime. To get a win here is a big breakthrough and it’s fun.”

L-P had lost its previous eight games in a row, but it received a boost of life when Lewis banked in a baseline three to put her team up 33-29 with 12:40 left in the game. The shot motivated Lewis, who finished with 14 points, four assists and three steals.

“I was not hitting my shots and when that one went in, I was like ‘OK, it’s time to go,’” Lewis said. 

L-P junior Kirsten Koopal, who recently scored her 1,000th career point, finished with 17 points, four rebounds and four steals. However, Koopal did not register a point in the last eight minutes of the game as L-O shifted a box and one defense on her.

“Their defense took me out, but I trusted my teammates against the box and one and they did it,” Koopal said. “We’ve been working for this for a long time and we finally did it. Lexi and I know what it’s like to be the younger player on the team, so we’re trying to step up as leaders.”

L-P will now play at top-seeded Goodhue at 7 p.m. Thursday.

The Cardinals (3-18 overall) were playing the game without a few key players including their leading scorer Benita Nolt. Nagel, a freshman, picked up the slack by putting up 26 points and 18 rebounds and senior Jenna Olson connected on five three-pointers to score 15 points.

LeRoy-Ostrander 19  32  –  51

Lyle-Pacelli 24  25  –  49

L-P scoring: Kirsten Koopal, 17; Lexi Lewis, 14; Madi Klankowski, 10; Autumn Drennan, 4; Liz Fredrick, 2; Morgan Klankowski, 2

L-O scoring: Miranda Nagel, 26; Jenna Olson, 15; Kendall Olson, 5; Victoria Knode, 2; Candace Hanson, 1