By Brenda Erdahl, Sports Editor
The Maple Lake girls basketball team won twice at home last week over two Central Minnesota Conference foes. On Tuesday, Jan. 9, the Irish hosted Paynesville and defeated the 0-12 Bulldogs, 59-23. On Friday, Jan. 12, Maple Lake topped Holdingford 50-48, in an exciting, back-and-forth battle. The Irish used full court pressure to gain an early advantage over the Bulldogs and never looked back. Maple Lake began the game with a 27-2 run that set the tone for the evening. The Irish went on to score a season high 43 points in the first half to dominate 43-11 by the break. The second half was much slower paced as Irish ball handlers turned their focus to execution and fundamentals. All 14 players got into the game and all eight seniors scored. Linsey Rachel led with 12 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the home team. Mollie Scheiber contributed 11 points; Grace Heying was a perfect three of three from the floor, and added two free throws in limited minutes; Calli Maki was steady with eight points, four rebounds and four assists. “I thought we executed well on both ends of the floor,” coach Adam Ronnenberg said. “We played very well as a team.” The Irish also had a season high 17 assists in the game; shot 50 percent from the floor compared to just 24 percent by Paynesville, and had a season-low 13 turnovers. Holdingford came into Friday night’s game with an 8-5 overall and 2-2 CMC record. As one of the top defensive teams in the conference, averaging 20 steals per game, there was no shortage of excitement. In fact, there were 15 ties or lead changes throughout the contest. Both team struggled with ball control in the first half and failed to establish any offensive rhythm. The Huskers led by as many as four, and the Irish as many as six in those first minutes. Holdingford led 20-18 at the break.