ZUMBROTA — One morning of rest. That’s all that Goodhue and Zumbrota-Mazeppa received heading into their Friday night matchup. It was also their third game in four days as teams are allowed to schedule three contests per week in these final two weeks of the regular season.
For Z-M, it was their most challenging opponent in a week where the competition ratcheted up with each passing game. In Goodhue’s case, it was the climax in an up-and-down week.
“I was a little concerned, we had a big game Tuesday, a big game last night and so I was a little worried about let down and our kids didn’t have it, they just had really good focus. I think that speaks to being led by seniors,” Goodhue head girls’ basketball coach Josh Wieme said.
Once the opening tipoff was settled, it didn’t take long for Goodhue to put their stamp on a game they ended up winning in blowout fashion, 66-20. In the opening five minutes of the first half, Goodhue went on a 15-2 run. During that span, Z-M turned the ball over in its first four possessions and didn’t even get a shot off until two-and-a-half minutes into the game.
The Wildcats spent the remainder of the first half proving that the opening five minutes weren’t just a small blip in an otherwise lengthy game. That meant outscoring the Cougars 21-11 in the final 13 minutes of the first half and enjoying some of its best success of the season at the free-throw line.
“Our kids love playing defense — they like pressing and they love forcing turnovers — and so all those things together, I was really happy to see the great start and how well they executed,” Wieme said.
At the free-throw line, Goodhue was more consistent than it had been all season in the first half. For a team that consistently hovers around 50-60% free-throw shooting, the Wildcats went a relatively successful 6-of-8 at the line in the first 18 minutes of action Friday night.
After holding the Cougars to 13 first-half points, the Wildcats would have been forgiven for surrendering a larger total in the second half. However, that wasn’t the case as Goodhue’s defense just became more stout as time ticked away, and the Cougars could muster only nine points in the final 18 minutes.
Once the game was well out of reach and a running clock was instituted, the starters on both teams took a seat and the reserves got in some vital game action. The younger players not only were able to provide the veterans a breather in a week filled with games, it also allowed them to prove what they can do if called into action as section playoffs loom on the horizon. And as Wieme noted, a chance to earn some well-deserved recognition for all their hard work in practices.
“Everybody on the team practices for two hours a night and goes hard so they deserve playing time as well, and I love that our whole team stays engaged and keeps the energy going,” Wieme said. “It's fun to see what others can do and sometimes it takes games like this to see what certain people can do.”
For Goodhue that meant five points each from Brooke Buck and Madisen Betcher, who wouldn’t normally see much playing time.
With a week’s worth of games left on the schedule for both teams, there is still time for starters and bench players alike to continue their development because once sections roll around, it will be all hands on deck to make a splash in the playoffs.
Goodhue went 11-of-17 at the free-throw line, while Z-M went 3-of-5. The Wildcats also made five 3-pointers compared to one for the Cougars.
Individually, Goodhue had five scorers with seven or more points. Arianna Thomforde led the way with 10 points, followed by Elissa Lodermeier (9), Anika Schafer (9), Joslyn Carlson (8) and Tori Miller (7). Also contributing points were Hannah Gadient (6), Brooke Buck (5), Madisen Betcher (5), Elisabeth Gadient (4) and Madison Benda (3).
For Z-M, Addie Voxland led the team with six points, followed by Natalie Dykes (5), Savannah Gruhlke (3), and Sarah Mensink, Megan Jasperson and Torey Stencel with two points each.
Goodhue, 12-4, and Z-M, 6-7, are next scheduled to play Monday. The Wildcats will host Kenyon-Wanamingo, while the Cougars host Triton.