The Tigers finished the regular season on a high note, going into Laker country and defeating Minnewaska Area 59-54 in front of a large crowd on senior night in the final regular-season game for both teams. With the win Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta takes second in the conference behind Minnewaska, but secures the top seed in Section 6AA West, while the Lakers take the No. 3 seed.
"I was very proud of our young ladies tonightm," said coach Ken Gagner. "They had a tough first half and yet kept their composure to knock off a very good team."
The Tigers were led early by Megan Dierks, who scored seven of the Tigers' first eight points. With the score tied at 8-8, the Lakers outscored the Tigers 22-14 to lead the game at halftime 30-22. The Lakers would also get the first four points of the second half.
Down by 12, the Tigers made their stand. After battling back and forth for the next several possessions, the Tigers were ignited for their run when juniors Mary Rentz and Jenna Nelson hit back-to-back three pointers. Nicole Gillespie then hit a basket and senior captain Stef Strobel knocked down consecutive field goals to put the Tigers up by eight at 52-44. Senior post Alissa Melberg also stepped up at this time, converting her only field goal of the night and also drew the foul to make it a three-point play.
Free throws would prove critical over the last four minutes and Heather Gagner made four of four to keep the comeback hopes of the Lakers from becoming reality.
"I am just really happy for our seniors and our program," said Gagner. "This gives us the number one seed for our half of the section and we're in the right frame of mind to start the playoffs."
The Tigers will face Breckenridge on Thursday, March 5, at 7 p.m. in Morris.
The Tigers were shooting at 40 percent (18-48) from the field and were 18-of-35 at the free-throw line.
The Lakers hit 39 percent (23-59) from the floor and were 4-of-13 at the line.
The Lakers collected 23 fouls compared to 13 for the Tigers.
Dierks and Strobel led the offense with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Nelson added nine and both Gagner and Gillespie scored seven points.
Also scoring were Rentz with six and Melberg with five.
Dierks led the Tigers with seven rebounds, while Melberg grabbed six and Strobel had five.