Panthers bomb 3's to tip NYM
BY BRIAN WIERIMA
There was a big obstacle in front of the New York Mills girls' basketball team and their quest for their first state tournament berth since 1986.
That obstacle was Parkers Prairie senior all-state guard Sari Noga and she proved to be a bit too high for the Eagles to soar over.
Noga led the Panthers to the first-ever Class 1A state berth Friday inside the University of Minnesota -- Morris gymnasium by pouring in 30 points in Parkers Prairie's 66-47 Section 6-1A championship victory.
"She's a very physical player and she shoots three's well," said New York Mills' head coach Dave Paavola. "She's tough to match up against."
The Eagles found out early what Noga is made of, after she single handily kept the Panthers in the game by scoring their first 14 of 15 points.
At that point, New York Mills led 18-17 with 6:50 remaining in the first half.
But a 16-0 run, keyed by a bevy of three-pointers by the Panthers -- who finished going 9-16 from beyond the three-point arc -- put good separation between themselves and the Eagles.
"They just got hot shooting three's," Paavola added.
The Panthers (26-2) also applied some heavy defensive pressure on the perimeter, where they were able to slow down Eagle sophomore point guard Alicia Boe from setting up the offense.
Still, NYM leading scorer senior center Hannah Rutten and Boe kept the Eagles within striking distance with 21 and 14 points, respectively.
New York Mills was able to slice the second half deficit to 10 points, but Parkers Prairie responded with two more back-to-back three's to end the potential rally.
"It was a great season, going 24-3 is something to be proud of," Paavola said. "I believe we lost to the second-best team in the state this year. Our goal was to get to this game, even though we are disappointed we were just one game away from state."