Taylor Kingston led the way early, but it was clutch baskets inside from Rachel Middendorf which helped the Long Prairie-Grey Eagle Thunder hold off and spoil the home opener for the Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines 54-51 on Nov. 30.
“Both teams put in the effort. It was pretty physical and a close game,” Wadena-DC head coach Tori Ehlert said. “I was happy with our girls that they didn’t give up and fought through it. Unfortunately, things just went more in Long Prairie’s favor and we couldn’t get things to go for us the right way.”
Kingston had an explosive first half, scoring 17 of her game high 21 points. She hit four 3-pointers and was a tough matchup, hitting several step back 3-pointers. Casey Volkmann blanketed her in the second half, holding her to four points, but it was Rachel Middendorf, who stepped up in the second half with 14 of her 16 points.
“We knew that coming in and we gave her too much space. She (Kingston) is a good player and shoots the ball well. What do you do when she is three-to-four steps behind the 3-point line and hitting them. Give her credit,” Ehlert said. “We focused on her in the second half, but they had players that stepped up and were able to execute that way.”
Volkmann led three Wolverines in double figures. She finished with 17 points, while Kennedy Gravelle added 13 and Mackenzie Carsten finished with 10. The Wolverines were able to get a lot of good looks at the basket, but just couldn’t get them to drop.
The Wolverines erased multiple six-point deficits in the game. They trailed by six at the half and then rallied to tie the game at 36 on a 3-pointer by Volkmann. The teams exchanged the lead until late in the half. Gravelle hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 46. However, Rachel Middendorf hit a free throw, giving the Thunder a lead they would not relinquish. Hannah Middendorf followed with a bucket, making it 49-46.
After a Volkmann free throw, the Thunder worked the clock and Rachel Middendorf recorded a 3-point play the old fashioned way, extending the Thunder lead to 52-47. The Thunder closed out the game with the ball after a basket by Ellie Miron, which cut the lead to three.
Kingston recorded the double-double for the Thunder. Along with her 21 points, she grabbed 11 rebounds. Miron led the way for Wadena-DC on the glass, finishing with nine rebounds.
The Wolverines return to the court on Friday, Dec. 1 when they host Bagley at 7:30 p.m.
LPGE 27 27--54
LPGE-Hannah Middendorf 11, Emma Liebsch 4, Kaitlin Welters 2, Rachel Middendorf 16, Taylor Kingston 21
3-point goals-Rachel Middendorf 2, Taylor Kingston 5
WDC-Casey Volkmann 17, Ellie Miron 7, Hailey Weiderich 4, Kennedy Gravelle 13, Mackenzie Carsten 10
3-point goals-Volkmann 2, Gravelle 2, Carsten 2