The New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva girls' basketball team celebrates winning a sectional championship to qualify for state, as Panthers' head coach John Schultz strolls past. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune
The New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva girls' basketball team celebrates winning a sectional championship to qualify for state, as Panthers' head coach John Schultz strolls past. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Panthers obliterate Saints to qualify for state

Published 11:59pm Friday, March 8, 2013

MANKATO — The New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva girls’ basketball team qualified for the state tournament with a 96-61 beatdown of St. Peter in the Section 2AA final.

St. Peter took a 4-0 lead to start the game, but that was the end of the highlight reel for the Saints.

New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva's Carlie Wagner drives to the baseket in transition against St. Peter. Wagner earned 49 points in the game.
New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva’s Carlie Wagner drives to the baseket in transition against St. Peter. Wagner earned 49 points in the game.

NRHEG went on to wreak havoc on St. Peter with its half-court pressure. The Panthers combined steals, transition layups, 3-pointers, and 3-point plays to build a 30-12 lead.

“Our defense was really high-power and in-your-face,” Carlie Wagner said. “Then, we converted the turnovers into points.”

“The traps really gave us the momentum,” Jade Schultz said. “Trapping them back-and-forth, we really like that.”

Carlie and Marnie Wagner lit up the scoreboard most frequently for the Panthers in the first half. Carlie had 31 points before the break, and Marnie earned 10.

Also in the first half, NRHEG hit seven three pointers: three were knocked down by Carlie and one was made by Marnie. Carlie also earned four three-point plays in the first half alone.

“When she (Carlie) would drive to the middle, they’d collapse, and we were hitting our’ ‘3s,” NRHEG head coach John Schultz said. “We had ‘em on the ropes.”

Maddie Wagner of New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva shoots over a defender in the Panthers' sectional final win over St. Peter. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune
Maddie Wagner of New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva shoots over a defender in the Panthers’ sectional final win over St. Peter. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

To start the second half, Jade Schultz continued NRHEG’s trend by nailing 3-pointer. The Panthers extended their lead to more than 30 points.

With 8 minutes and 56 seconds left in the game, Carlie hit a pair of free-throws to give her 44 points, and NRHEG led 77-44. She finished with 49 points.

Carlie posted a double-double by earning a team-high 10 assists. She also added a team-high six steals, and she tied Jade with a team-high 7 rebounds.

Jade credited the win to teammates.

“The twins (Marnie and Maddie Wagner) and Paige Overgaard stepped up for us,” Jade said. “They played their roles really well.”

Marnie and Maddie, eighth-graders, combined with 22 points and eight steals. Overgaard earned 12 points.

Kelsey Carpenter led St. Peter with 14 points, and four Saints scored in double figures.

Although the Panthers came away with a 58-48 win over Hayfield in the subsection final, NRHEG struggled to score. However, the Panthers are back on track after dismantling St. Peter.

“Last game was a wake-up call for us,” Wagner said. “I think that this game was a chance to prove that we can play better.”

Against Hayfield, NRHEG shot 28 percent from the field. St. Peter was a different story, as the Panthers shot 63 percent.

“Hayfield was a nightmare,” coach Schultz said. “But, the kids came back. I told them that all the shots we missed, we were going to make the next game.”

Next, the Panthers play Pelican Rapids in the first round of the state tournament at Williams’ Arena on Wednesday at 8 p.m.

“Going to state is the best thing ever,” Jade said. “You get to experience a whole new thing.”