Irish are Runner-Up in CMC

By Brenda Erdahl, Sports Editor

The Maple Lake Irish girls basketball team extended its win streak to seven, the program’s longest win streak in 12-plus years, to end the 2017 regular season on an encouraging note.

The girls started the week with a 66-47 win over the nonsection, non-conference foe, Lester Prairie on Monday, Feb. 19.

Three days later, on Friday, Feb. 23, the Irish upset Pierz 42- 37 to tie for second with Belgrade- Brooten-Elrosa (10-4) in Central Minnesota Conference play.

Monday night’s game with Lester Prairie was the third game in a row for the Irish and the demanding schedule was taking its toll. The Bulldogs took advantage of Irish sluggishness to claim an early 13-4 lead. Maple Lake continued to struggle to score through much of the first half, but by the break they had managed to go on a 10-0 run for a one-point lead.

L-P came out of the break with the same fervor and led by five in the early moments of the second half. The Irish finally began to slow the Bulldogs’ fastpaced offensive transition to go on a 19-5 run spanning about four minutes midway through the half to take a 46-37 lead. The fouls began to pile up and the Irish knocked down free throw after free throw to put the game out of reach for the Bulldogs.

Mackenna Brown led all scorers with a career high 18 points, and set a new school record by going eight for eight from the free throw line. Grace Heying stuffed the stat sheet with 11 points, nine rebounds, four blocks, and one assist. Calli Maki and Linsey Rachel each had 11 points.

“This was a tough turnaround for us. Despite having the weekend to recover and rest, we hadn’t had any practice time and were playing our third game in as many days, not to mention coming off our biggest win of the year the previous Friday. We had to battle from start to finish. Fun to see us respond so well,” coach Adam Ronnenberg said.

Maple Lake outrebounded the Bulldogs 32-24 and shot 42 percent from the floor compared to just 36 percent by L-P. The Irish were also 23 of 30 from the free throw line and had 14 turnovers compared to the Bulldog’s 19.

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