by ADAM GRUENEWALD
In their quest for the Minnesota River Conference title, the Central girls’ basketball team picked up several key wins.
They defeated Sibley East last Thursday on the road, 42-21, beat Litchfield on Friday on the road, 44-36, and beat Tri-City United at home on Monday, 82-64.
They are now 8-1 in the MRC, in second place behind Jordan (9-1), who they face on Friday.
The Raiders previously beat the Jaguars at home on Jan. 12, 71-60. Madison Dean, who is averaging 28 points, was held to 17 in that game.
Head coach Gary Lembcke said his team will have to try and limit her again.
“The biggest thing is they are a good offensive team and we got to make sure we don’t give them easy baskets and make them work for every shot, especially Dean,” he said.
Lembcke also didn’t downplay the importance of Friday’s contest.
“It will be tough,” he said. “Last year, we needed to win for conference and we went down there and played a terrific game so hopefully history repeats itself.”
Central 82, TCU 64
Central pulled away in the second half to defeat Tri-City United in a makeup game at home on Monday, 82-64.
Head coach Gary Lembcke said he was a little concerned at the close 41-33 margin at halftime.
“It seemed like we let them fight there way in,” he said. “They seemed to establish momentum going into halftime. We had a 10, 12-point lead and they got it down to six.”
Lembcke said TCU got a lot of offensive rebounds in the first half, but those were limited in the second half as the Raiders pulled away.
“We got a few run outs and we got some good stops on defense,” said Lembcke. “We were able to get it out and get the lead.”
Lembcke said the ball movement was strong offensively in terms of ball movement and shooting leading to some high scoring nights.
Kaylie Brazil finished with 27 points, 10 assists and seven steals while Kali Grimm had 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Natalie Stockman and Sami Jo Brinkmann each added 12 points and Brinkmann also had 12 rebounds and eight blocks.
TCU 33 31 64
Central 41 41 82
Central – Kaylie Brazil 27, Kali Grimm 20, Natalie Stockman 12, Sami Jo Brinkmann 12, Grace Wickenhauser 3, Megan Geis 3, Madison Schlueter 2, Megan Miller 2, Bren Fox 1, Alli Curson, Sarah Marshall
Central – Rebounds 48 (Brinkmann 12, Grimm 10), Assists 26 (Brazil 10), Steals 12 (Brazil 7), Blocked shots 8 (Brinkmann 8)
Central 44, Litchfield 36
The Central girls basketball team defeated Litchfield on the road on Friday night, 44-36.
They led 21-17 at halftime before expanding the lead in the second half.
“We played great defense and limited Litchfield to one shot,” said head coach Gary Lembcke. “We gave them very few offensive rebounds. Offensively we missed some good shots, but our defense and rebounding let us keep our lead throughout the game.”
Both Kali Grimm and Sami Jo Brinkmann finished in double-figure scoring with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Central 21 23 44
Litchfield 17 19 36
Central – Kaylie Brazil 8, Natalie Stockman 9, Kali Grimm 12, Megan Geis 4, Sami Jo Brinkmann 11.
Central – Three Pointers 1 (Grimm), Rebounds 28 (Geis 12), Assists 11 (Brazil 4), Steals 14 (Brazil 9), Blocked shots 3 (Brinkmann 3)
Central 42, Sibley East 21
The Raiders took care of business on the road last Thursday at Sibley East with superb execution on the defensive end.
The Wolverines were held without a made field goal for a little over three-quarters of the game as Central built a huge lead.
Head coach Gary Lembcke said he was pleased with his team defensively.
“I thought we were doing a good job of cutting off passing lanes and taking away what they were looking for,” he said. “The other thing I thought was key is they would only get one shot. We had a ton of defensive rebounds.”
Starting a bit slow, Central held a 8-4 advantage in the first half with about 10 minutes left.
“We got frustrated a little bit and we did a lot of standing around,” said Lembcke. “At least we didn’t let it affect our defense. The way they trap and stuff like that, we needed to make that one extra pass and we didn’t do a real good job of that to start out with. When we did we got good shots.”
The Raiders though scored 17 straight points until a late free throw by Sibley East made it 25-5 at the break.
Natalie Stockman, who finished with a game-high 12 points, started it off with a deep 2-point jumper.
“They were running a 1-3-1 and trying to get in our passing lanes,” said Stockman of the early struggles. “We were throwing it away or forcing it. Once we got good looks in the post we started getting going.”
Kaylie Brazil then hit a midrange shot and a three-pointer for a 15-4 advantage with about 7 minutes left.
The Raiders then got free throws from Megan Geis and Sami Jo Brinkmann, as all five starters scored in the first half.
Brinkmann later added a putback and Kali Grimm contributed a three-pointer for a 23-4 edge with about 3 minutes left. Stockman then capped the run with a bucket.
“Once we broke it and they only had five we were pretty confident going into the second half,” said Stockman.
The Raiders built the lead to as many as 25 at 32-7 after a Grimm 3-pointer, but the Wolverines got their first made field goal on a fast break layup by Jessica Garza at the 8:35 mark.
Notably both teams got three-pointers from unlikely sources in the waning moments as Central’s Paige Schneider and the Wolverines’ Britney Reierson both hit from long range.
Lembcke credited Sibley East for the way they played despite the result and their record near the bottom of the MRC.
“They hustle and they work hard and take a lot of pride in that,” he said. “Lot of times that’s the biggest thing.”
Looking ahead, Stockman said her team has to keep winning games to continue a push for the MRC title.
“In the conference we want to win all of these games we know we can win and not give any easy ones away,” she said.
Central 25 20
Sibley East 5 16
Central – Kaylie Brazil 3 2-3 9, Natalie Stockman 5 0-0 10, Megan Geis 0 2-2 2, Kali Grimm 3 0-0 9, Sami Jo Brinkmann 3 1-2 7, Megan Miller 1 1-1 3, Alli Curson 0 0-1 0, Madison Schlueter 0 0-0 0, Bren Fox 0 2-2 2, Shyann Wickenhauser 0 0-0 0, Clare Stuewe 0 0-0 0, Paige Schneider 1 0-0 3, Grace Wickenhauser 0 0-0 0, Sara Marschall 0 0-0 0, Kassidi Wickenhauser 0 0-0 0, TOTALS 16 8-11 45
Sibley East – McKayla Stumm 0 0-0 0, Katie Tuchtenhagen 0 0-0 0, Jessica Garza 1 0-2 2, Megan Eckberg 0 3-4 3, McKenzie Sommers 0 2-2 2, Shelby Voigt 1 0-0 2, Kim Kurtzweg 0 0-0 0, Kelli Martens 0 2-2 2, Autumn Dose 1 2-2 3, Liz Thies 1 0-0 3, Britney Reierson 1 0-0 3, Maren Miner 0 0-0 0, Hayley Riebe 0 0-0 0, Breann Walsh 0 0-0 0, Mikayla Perschau 0 0-0 0, TOTALS 5 9-12 21
Three Pointers – Central 5 (Grimm 3, Brazil. Schneider), Sibley East 2 (Reierson, Thies)
The Central girls next hosted Mayer Lutheran on Tuesday. They then travel to Jordan on Friday in a key MRC matchup and Lester Prairie on Feb. 18 before playing host to Belle Plaine on Feb. 20.
Contact Adam Gruenewald at firstname.lastname@example.org.