Basketball: Elk girls top Moorhead 71-57 in playoff opener
by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk River’s five seniors had a rousing home court finale as the Elks opened playoffs with a 71-57 conquest of the Moorhead Spuds on Tuesday evening.
“This is the time that matters,” said Makenzie Frericks, senior forward who led with 21 points. “We ended here on a good note.”
Senior guard Annie Sizen hit 17 points, sophomore guard Jordyn Sohns 11 and junior post Victoria Jenson 9.
Other seniors in their last home game were forward Mikayla Maconber (5 points) and guards Kayti Hanson (4), Emily Ecklund (4) and Jenna Cielcha (0), the latter a starter who doesn’t shoot much.
The No. 3 seeded Elks (16-11) now face No. 2 St. Michael-Albertville (23-4) in the Section 8AAAA semifinals Saturday at St. Cloud State, 7:45 p.m. The other semifinal will have No. 1 Buffalo (23-3) against No. 4 St. Cloud Tech (16-12) at 6 p.m. The finals will be held Friday, March 11, at St. John’s, 8 p.m.
Freshman guard Hali Stephenson scored 20 points and sophomore guard Alyse Engen 16 for No. 6 Moorhead (5-19), mainly on 3-pointers, with Engen sinking five of them and Stephenson four.
Frericks, an all-conference player last year with 11 ppg, struggled early this year with nagging injuries and hasn’t been able to break loose for a big senior year, but showed what she can do in this game, hitting seven inside field goals and 7-for-10 free shots.
“I told myself to be more patient,” said Frericks. “I have a tendency of doing things too fast.”
“Makenzie was aggressive with the ball and she read the defense really well, too,” said coach Reed Caouette. “Her teammates located her well, too, and got her the ball where she had a chance to score.”
Sizen, the team scoring leader with 12 ppg, got her 17 points in a most unusual fashion for her. She normally scores most if not all her points on 3-pointers, of which she’s made 86 for the season.This game, she had just two trifectas along with three layups (two after steals by the Elks) and 5-for-5 free shots.
The Elks were 14-for-17 at the line, led by Frericks, Sizen and Hanson (4-for-4).
Caouette praised his team for playing an up-tempo game all evening and beating back a couple of Moorhead rallies with steals converted into layups.
This is always an exciting time of the year, and Frericks is looking forward to trying for a couple of section upsets.
“We definitely are playing way better at the end of the year,” said Frericks.
There was charming aside to the last home game as the younger teams in the Elks program were invited to dress up in costumes, with the winning team invited to the team’s post-season banquet. So there were a lot of little Elks with sprayed hair and painted faces and various costumes including one dressed as a fairy. Chosen as the winning entrant was the eight-grade ‘B’ team which mimicked the varsity by wearing their uniform numbers and hair-styles.
Lauren Brayden duplicated the game’s star, Frericks, who has a long ponytail and a thick shock of dark hair piled high. “She even had the bump in her hair like I do,” said Frericks, after posing with her “twin” for a photo (see above) after the game.
Elk scoring — Makenzie Frericks 21, Annie Sizen 17, Jordyn Sohns 11, Victoria Jenson 9, Mikayla Macomber 5, Kayti Hanson 4, Emily Ecklund 4