by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
The Elk River girls basketball team earned a spot in a championship game this week. That’s the headline for a team that was 1-5 at one point.
The Elks came up short against Providence Academy 45-35 in the Monticello Invitational finals on Thursday evening but called it a pretty run.
“We’ve come here (to Monticello) for five years and this is the first team to make the championship game, so that says something,” noted coach Reed Caouette.
The Elks (4-5) had beaten Monticello 60-44 and Albany 60-48 to reach the finals and extend their win streak to four before falling to the Lions. Monticello is 8-1 and Albany 6-4.
“We were playing as a team more, our passes were better, and we had a lot of energy,” said senior guard Annie Sizen about the two wins.
Regarding Providence Academy, she said: “They are physical. and big. We played hard and stayed with them.”
The Elks rallied from 10 points down to tie the score at 31 and 33 in the second half but scored just one point in the last 5 1/2 minutes as the Lions proved to be an opponent who can wear you out.
“They made us work really hard at the defensive end in the half-court set,” said Caouette. “They were really good at executing that.
“When you are out-sized by four or five inches at every position, that makes it tough. We rebounded pretty well for as big as they are.”
The Lions were led in scoring by junior forward Lyndsey Frogner with 14 points and sophomore guard Nathalie Ratliff with 13. Junior forward AnnMarie Healy, who had 6 points against the Elks, was named tournament MVP.
Seven players divvied up the Elks points led by Jordyn Sohns with 7 points and Sizen and Mikala Macomber with 6 each.
“Elk River is a nice basketball team,” said Providence coach Ray Finley. “They have three good post players and four or five guards who battle hard. The score was low because both teams were playing hard man to man defense.”
Each team sputtered most of the first half as the score was 8-8 after 13 minutes. Providence opened a 15-8 lead, but Sizen hit both her 3-pointers in the game to pull the Elks within 16-14. The Lions pulled away 21-14 at halftime.
Providence opened a 10-point lead in the second half but the Elks caught up while bothering the Lions with a full court press. Macomber tied the score at 31 with a 3-pointer and Sohns tied it at 33 with a steal and layup.
“We caught up and needed one more stop,” said Caouette, “and we were going to spread out our offense and see if we could get them to extend their defense.”
The Elks didn’t get that one more stop as Providence quickly regained the lead, and pulled away at the free throw line while the Elks faded.
Makenzie Frericks was held to 3 points by the Lions but made the all-tournament team. The senior forward had 19 points against Monticello.
Providence Academy, in just its third year of operation, is 9-2 and ranked No. 2 in Class 2A. Finley, former Gopher football player, has previously built strong private school programs at Blake and Breck.
The Elks will play resume conference play at Blaine on Friday.
Elk River — Jenna Cielocha 5, Jordyn Sohns 7, Kayti Hanson 5, Annie Sizen 2, Makenzie Frericks 3, Victoria Jenson 3, Mikala Macomber 6
Providence Academy — Leah Szabla 2, Taylor Finley 5, Nathalie Tatliff 13, AnnMarie Healy 6, Lyndsey Frogner 14