Basketball: Elk girls top Moorhead 71-57 in playoff opener

Mackenzie Frericks (34), who scored 21 points, posed with her eighth-grade "twin" Lauren Brayden after the game. Younger teams in the program had a team spirit costume contest. See below for more photos. (Photo by Amy Berg)

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.

 

Elk post Victoria Jenson drove to the hoop. She had 9 points. (Photo by Erik Jacobson)

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.

 

Elk guard Jordyn Sohns soared for a shot in the lane. She had 11 points. (Photo by Erik Jacobson)

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.

 

The Elk fourth grade "A" team showed off their Elk spirit costumes while cheering for the varsity. (Photo by Amy Berg)

Elk scoring — Makenzie Frericks 21, Annie Sizen 17, Jordyn Sohns 11, Victoria Jenson 9, Mikayla Macomber 5, Kayti Hanson 4, Emily Ecklund 4

 

The Elks eighth-grade "B" team and coaches got picked for the best spirit costumes. The girls each duplicated a varsity player's uniform and hairstyle. (Photo by Amy Berg)


 

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