Hill-Murray stubborn defense overcomes determined Zephyrs

The Hill-Murray Pioneers, behind a traditionally stubborn defense, rolled over the Mahtomedi Zephyrs in a Classic Suburban Conference girls basketball contest, Jan. 27, in a game played in the Hill-Murray Field House.

Despite the 69-43 final score, to Mahtomedi’s credit, they fought hard to the end against the 8-1 Pioneers (second place in the conference).

When asked about the fact that Mahtomedi fought hard to the very end of the game, Zephyrs coach Janine Nelson smiled and said, “That’s a tribute to what these kids do. They never quit. They have learned to play hard and have a lot of heart. It typifies the character of this team. Hill-Murray is a good team. (Head coach) Erin (Herman) does a good job coaching them and they have a quality program. But our kids hung in there and played hard until the end.”

The contest got off to a slow start with neither team able to penetrate the tough defenses by their opponents.

Four minutes into the game, Mahtomedi forged a 7-6 edge in the scoring.

“We didn’t rebound very well in the first half. We talked about it at the break and I thought we played much better in the second half,” veteran Hill-Murray mentor Herman said. “As a team, we play well at defense. But we had a few lapses and that bothers me a bit. When we get up, we have to concentrate on staying up and not let the other team get the momentum. But this is a good group of dedicated kids. They just love working together. They cheer for each other and have great team chemistry. They have built a great work ethic.”

Once the Pioneers moved into an 8-7 lead, on a pair of free throws by CSC leading point producer Amy Storer, they never trailed.

With 10 minutes left in the first half, Mahtomedi pulled to within two at 14-12 on a 3-pointer from Heather Smith.

But from that point on, Hill-Murray worked at a frantic pace on defense. They geared up their offense in the final eight minutes and went on a 16-3 run to close out the first half leading 30-15.

While the Pioneers were creating turnovers and making the Zephyrs miss from the floor, Mahtomedi didn’t help themselves from the free throw line. They shot only 4-for-11 (36 percent) from the charity stripe in the first half. In the game, Mahtomedi shot 11-for-24 or 46 percent from the free throw line.

Meanwhile, the Pioneers went 24-for-31 from the line for 77 percent.

In the turnover department, Hill-Murray had the upper hand by 22-18.

The Pioneers came out in the second half with a 5-point surge that mounted the count to 35-15.

But for the final 16 minutes of play, Mahtomedi kept up the pressure and nearly stayed with Hill-Murray as they lost in the point total 34-27 to the now 8-1 Pioneers.

The victory solidified the Hill-Murray hold on second place in the Classic Suburban Conference race. Tartan, 8-0, is one game ahead of the Pioneers at the halfway point in the schedule.

In the losing effort, Mahtomedi got 14 points from Mara Hjelle. Heather Smith, with 11, was also in double figures and was followed by Molly Bethke (6), Abby Bethke (5), Alyssa Heser (2), Lauren Caswell (2), Chelle Johnson (2) and Jordyn Strege (1).

Leading point producer in the contest was Storer who popped in 22. Storer pushed her conference-leading total to 358 points on the season and is averaging 20 points a game.

Right on Storer’s heels was Tara Dillon who dropped 19 points through the Mahtomedi twines. The pair was followed by Courtney Gage (6), Krista Kaput (6), Chrissy Holm (5), Abbie Braun (4), Taylor Cross (4) and Lauren Hanzalik (3).

Next up the teams continue CSC action with Mahtomedi hosting North, Feb. 7, before taking to the road to meet Sibley.

The Pioneers travel to Tartan Feb. 3 for a chance to move into a tie for the league lead. They take on Stillwater at Stillwater Feb. 7 and stay on the road to meet Richfield on Feb. 10. Hill-Murray will play its last regular season home game Feb. 14 when they host the Simley Spartans.

Games are 7:30 p.m. scheduled starts.

Wally Wakefield

staff writer

The Hill-Murray Pioneers, behind a traditionally stubborn defense, rolled over the Mahtomedi Zephyrs in a Classic Suburban Conference girls basketball contest, Jan. 27, in a game played in the Hill-Murray Field House.

Despite the 69-43 final score, to Mahtomedi’s credit, they fought hard to the end against the 8-1 Pioneers (second place in the conference).

When asked about the fact that Mahtomedi fought hard to the very end of the game, Zephyrs coach Janine Nelson smiled and said, “That’s a tribute to what these kids do. They never quit. They have learned to play hard and have a lot of heart. It typifies the character of this team. Hill-Murray is a good team. (Head coach) Erin (Herman) does a good job coaching them and they have a quality program. But our kids hung in there and played hard until the end.”

The contest got off to a slow start with neither team able to penetrate the tough defenses by their opponents.

Four minutes into the game, Mahtomedi forged a 7-6 edge in the scoring.

“We didn’t rebound very well in the first half. We talked about it at the break and I thought we played much better in the second half,” veteran Hill-Murray mentor Herman said. “As a team, we play well at defense. But we had a few lapses and that bothers me a bit. When we get up, we have to concentrate on staying up and not let the other team get the momentum. But this is a good group of dedicated kids. They just love working together. They cheer for each other and have great team chemistry. They have built a great work ethic.”

Once the Pioneers moved into an 8-7 lead, on a pair of free throws by CSC leading point producer Amy Storer, they never trailed.

With 10 minutes left in the first half, Mahtomedi pulled to within two at 14-12 on a 3-pointer from Heather Smith.

But from that point on, Hill-Murray worked at a frantic pace on defense. They geared up their offense in the final eight minutes and went on a 16-3 run to close out the first half leading 30-15.

While the Pioneers were creating turnovers and making the Zephyrs miss from the floor, Mahtomedi didn’t help themselves from the free throw line. They shot only 4-for-11 (36 percent) from the charity stripe in the first half. In the game, Mahtomedi shot 11-for-24 or 46 percent from the free throw line.

Meanwhile, the Pioneers went 24-for-31 from the line for 77 percent.

In the turnover department, Hill-Murray had the upper hand by 22-18.

The Pioneers came out in the second half with a 5-point surge that mounted the count to 35-15.

But for the final 16 minutes of play, Mahtomedi kept up the pressure and nearly stayed with Hill-Murray as they lost in the point total 34-27 to the now 8-1 Pioneers.

The victory solidified the Hill-Murray hold on second place in the Classic Suburban Conference race. Tartan, 8-0, is one game ahead of the Pioneers at the halfway point in the schedule.

In the losing effort, Mahtomedi got 14 points from Mara Hjelle. Heather Smith, with 11, was also in double figures and was followed by Molly Bethke (6), Abby Bethke (5), Alyssa Heser (2), Lauren Caswell (2), Chelle Johnson (2) and Jordyn Strege (1).

Leading point producer in the contest was Storer who popped in 22. Storer pushed her conference-leading total to 358 points on the season and is averaging 20 points a game.

Right on Storer’s heels was Tara Dillon who dropped 19 points through the Mahtomedi twines. The pair was followed by Courtney Gage (6), Krista Kaput (6), Chrissy Holm (5), Abbie Braun (4), Taylor Cross (4) and Lauren Hanzalik (3).

Next up the teams continue CSC action with Mahtomedi hosting North, Feb. 7, before taking to the road to meet Sibley.

The Pioneers travel to Tartan Feb. 3 for a chance to move into a tie for the league lead. They take on Stillwater at Stillwater Feb. 7 and stay on the road to meet Richfield on Feb. 10. Hill-Murray will play its last regular season home game Feb. 14 when they host the Simley Spartans.

Games are 7:30 p.m. scheduled starts.

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