There is a debate in sports whether or not going undefeated during the regular season is a good thing. Obviously the goal is to win every single game, but there is something to be said about suffering a loss or a few losses, especially when they help a team learn how to face adversity and bounce back. The year-long pressure cooker of an undefeated season can really wear a team down, just look at the Golden State Warriors’ 73-9 2015-2016 season.

Well, the Prescott Cardinals girls’ basketball team no longer has to worry about staying undefeated. The Cardinals went to Ellsworth on Friday where they rolled past the Panthers 69-35, but then hosted the Hastings (Minn.) Raiders on Saturday and were upset 58-55. Prescott is now 8-1 overall and 5-0 in the Middle Border Conference as they head into the bulk of their MBC schedule.

Prescott started the game on a 6-0 run and led until the midpoint of the first half. The Cardinals’ aggressive, pressing style paid off over that stretch as Hastings turned the ball over several times, but over the course of the game the Raiders learned how to handle the pressure. On the back of Mallory Brake’s finishing, a senior Creighton women’s basketball commit, Hastings led 25-19 at halftime.

In the second half Hastings started strong but Prescott slowly and surely mounted a comeback. After just six first-half points, Cardinal junior Isabella Lenz found her groove in the second half, both at the basket and from the 3-point line. Prescott trailed by just four points with 5 minutes left and eventually took the lead. However, Hastings tied it and then took a 3-point lead on free throws with 3.4 seconds left and this is when the game got weird.

After making the two free throws to go up three, Hastings immediately fouled Lenz rather than let the Cardinals get a 3-point shot off. Lenz missed the first free throw, so she needed to miss the second and Prescott to get the offensive rebound and hit a 3-pointer.

Prescott head coach Rob Radloff instructed one of his guards outside the 3-point line to move towards the corner to be in position for the tip-out and a better shot. This was a violation though, as players outside the 3-point line cannot move below the free-throw line extended, which he said he realized as soon as the whistle blew. Prescott was not allowed to shoot the second free throw, Hastings received the ball underneath their own basket and they were able to inbound and run out the clock for the win.

“We just didn’t execute what we wanted to. I think the game flow was kind of in their (Hastings’) favor there, Minnesota basketball’s a lot more physical, they’re a physical team and they’re bigger than we are. It definitely was an advantage for them, it’s not an excuse at all, but I think we dug deep and decided to come back in the second half,” Radloff said about the game. “At one point I thought we had it, then of course it just slips away from you. It’s good to have a game like that because I think we learn a lot from it. You see some different things in some different situations and games like that are fun.”

After a sluggish first half, Prescott really seemed to come alive in the second. Lenz became more aggressive and more efficient, junior Sydney Matzek had several finishes at the basket and the Cardinals got big contributions from sophomore Erin Boatman and junior Tori Benck. Radloff singled them all out after the game as Prescott continues to look for consistent, reliable scorers outside of Lenz and junior Nicole Dalman. What Radloff seemed proud of most was the determination his team showed until the end.

Junior Sydney Matzek has been deadly on skip-ahead passes in transition from Isabella Lenz so far this season. She scored 10 points against Ellsworth and nine against Hastings. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia
Junior Sydney Matzek has been deadly on skip-ahead passes in transition from Isabella Lenz so far this season. She scored 10 points against Ellsworth and nine against Hastings. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia

“That’s that grit that we just have, the heart that we have, the never say die attitude. We’re just not gonna give up, that aggressiveness and that want is a great piece and a strength of our team,” he said. “If we could just make some free throws down the stretch, tight games like that we can’t shoot 30% for the game and expect to win those. If we had snuck out of there missing the free throws we did, it would have been a huge accomplishment.”

Prescott went 9-for-20 from the free-throw line, including some critical misses at the end like Radloff said.

Brake led all scorers with 27 points for Hastings while Lenz scored 20 for Prescott, 14 of which came in the second half, as well as 10 rebounds for a double-double and two assists and steals. Lenz now has 997 points for her career and will most likely pass 1,000 in Prescott’s upcoming game against New Richmond (8-2, 6-0 MBC) on Friday. Dalman also had a double-double with 13 points, 12 rebounds and two assists before fouling out late in the game. Matzke had nine points and Benck added eight.

Area scores

The Spring Valley Cardinals (1-9, 0-5 Dunn-St. Croix Conference) girls’ basketball team hosted Stanley Boyd (7-5, 3-3 Cloverbelt Conference) on Saturday and lost 63-29. Stanley Boyd built a 25-point halftime lead, 38-13, before cruising the rest of the game.

Stanley Boyd had two players score in double-digits – Marissa Gustafson and Lily Hoel – who combined for 35 points while Spring Valley as team scored 29. Junior Maddy Olson led the Cardinals with seven points while three different players – senior Katherine Dieckman, senior Morgan Rustad and junior Larissa Stark – each had five points apiece. Sophomore Andrea Hinzman added four points.

Spring Valley travels to Glenwood City (3-7, 1-4 DSC) on Tuesday and then hosts Colfax (9-2, 5-0 DSC) on Friday.