by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
The Rogers Royals took on St. Michael-Albertville three times this year. Even to win one of those three was a difficult proposition, it was suggested to Royal coach Karlee Anderson.
“Yes, it is. He has a great program there and lots of talented girls,” said Anderson about Knight coach Kent Hamre’s team that ousted the Royals 54-32 Saturday evening.
The Royals, who also lost twice in conference play to the Section 8AAAA top seed and defending champion, finished 15-13.
The Knights (22-4) struggled mightily for the first 14 minutes against Rogers’ zone defense, trailing 10-9 at that point, but nailed four 3-pointers in the time remaining before halftime, three of those by Bobbi Brendefur, and led 25-12 at the half.
“It was a sloppy game and we out-uglied them in the first half,” quipped Hamre.
STMA continued to pull away in the second half and cruised into the section finals, set for Friday against Elk River at St. John’s. The Knights have won the last two section crowns and five in the last eight years.
Brendefur, a junior guard, sank 14 points, senior forward Erin Autio 13, and sophomore guard Sydney Tracy 10 for the Knights. They made 14 of 23 free throws with Autio going 8-for-9, and five 3-pointers.
“Defensively, I thought we played really hard and left it all on the floor,” said Anderson.
But offensively, the Royals couldn’t get much going, with center Lindsay Dorr leading them with 10 points. It didn’t help that point guard Taylor Anderson got in early foul trouble. She played the second half and scored seven points.
Hamre said, about his defense, “We saw Dorr had a big game against Buffalo, and we changed our game plan a little and made her go a different way. I’ve got enough guards so that we can really pester their guards.”
The Royals had trouble holding unto the ball, while making no 3-pointers, and 16 of 24 free shots.
“They pressure a lot harder than most teams we have seen,” said Anderson, “and that is something we have to get better at, in the off-season.”
Rogers has just one senior (Dorr, a University of Toledo recruit) and will bring back nine juniors.
“We will build on this,” said Anderson.
Rogers scoring — Bailey Miller 4, Taylor Anderson 7, Bella Wilson 1, Marina Nowak 7, Hannah Sjerven 3, Lindsay Dorr 10