Defense does it for 8th-grade girls

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 23, 2004


It has been the chant of the Albert Lea eighth-grade girls basketball team this season.

Would it continue as March Madness began?

Email newsletter signup

Most definitely.

The locals continued to play tough defense while bringing home the Division C championship in the Minnesota Sports Federation state tournament.

“Each girl really stepped up this year,&uot; said coach Kelly Hendrickson. &uot;From seeing their teammates on the floor offensively, to the relentless defense.”

Matched against Roseville in the opening round, the Tigers allowed only 11 points. The Tigers collectively were 8-for-11 from the free-throw line with Sammy Cole going 4-for-4.

Prior Lake was next on the bracket for the Tigers.

Again the defense

took control and the Tigers allowed only 10 points.

In both games on Saturday, seven out of eight Albert Lea girls scored.

Sunday morning’s bracket had the Tigers slated against the Urban Stars.

Despite the very aggressive “street ball” team of the Stars, the Tigers took a 14-9 lead at the half on their way to a 40-31 victory.

Benilde-St. Margaret’s was the next opponent for the Tigers.

Benilde came out with a full-court press but the Tigers found their rhythm, beating the press while winning the semifinal contest.

The girls were starting to taste a state championship. But would they be hungry enough? Maple River was on the menu for the Tigers.

The Tigers again went to their half-court trap and led 22-13 at halftime. Maple River rallied within one point in the fourth quarter but the locals kept their composure, making seven of 10 fourth-quarter free throws in a 44-35 victory.

“We couldn’t be prouder of this group of kids,&uot; said Coach Hendrickson. &uot;When we asked them what they wanted to do today, their response was, ‘Win!’ Each member of the team plays such an integral role. The girls play very aggressive defensive, and attack the basket on both ends of the floor.

We are getting many offensive weak-side rebounds and put-backs. Our transition defense keeps the game at our pace. This is a very quick team and they don’t allow their opponent to set up defensively. The girls see the floor really well and are moving away from the ball, and at this age it is a great asset to the game.”

The team is sponsored in part by the Albert Lea Elks.

Individual totals for the five games: Sammy Cole 36 rebounds, four steals, two assists, 18 points; Hali Hendrickson 41 rebounds, 17 steals, 12 assists one blocked shot and averaged 16.4 points a game; Jordan Reim 10 rebounds, one steal, four points; Chelsey Niebuhr seven rebounds, three steals two assists, four points; Dezi Jacobs 23 rebounds, 22 steals, six assists, three blocked shots, 35 points; Beth Niebuhr 15 points two steals, five points; Annika Smed 28 Rebounds, six steals seven assists, two blocked shots, 18 points; Jessica Sosebee 27 rebounds, three steals, one assist, three blocked shots, 33 points.