Haley Burger’s return has helped East Grand Forks Senior High turn around its girls high school basketball season.
The Green Wave take an 11-15 record and the No. 6 seed from the north subsection into the Section 8AA tournament. They play at third-seeded Crookston in a 7 p.m. first-round game Thursday, Feb. 27.
Senior High opened the season without Burger, who was sidelined by a shoulder injury she suffered at a basketball camp last June. Without the 5-foot-10 senior center, the Wave started the season 4-9. Since the senior returned to the lineup, Senior High has gone 7-6.
“Haley’s made us a better team,’’ Senior High coach Jay Frydenlund said. “She’s scoring. She’s rebounding. Teams have to defend her. Until she came back, we didn’t have an inside presence. She’s given us a big boost.’’
Burger averages 15.5 points a game. She joins Chloe Torgerson (14.2 ppg) to give Senior High a solid 1-2 scoring punch. Despite missing half the season, Burger is second on the team in total points, trailing only Torgerson.
“She’s taken some of the scoring pressure off Chloe,’’ Frydenlund said. “We worried that Haley might be a little tentative when she came back. But she’s been tough around the basket.’’
Crookston is 2-0 against Senior High, beating the Wave twice by more than 30 points.
“Crookston will be a tough task,’’ Frydenlund said. “But we’ve played better in the second half of the season. If we can put together a full 36 minutes, we can compete with almost anybody in the section. But we haven’t done that consistently.’’
Sacred Heart enters the Section 8A girls basketball tournament down one starter.
Senior Maddi Mitzel suffered a severe sprained ankle Monday against Badger-Greenbush-Middle River. “She’s out for the season,’’ Eagles coach Blake Karas said. “It hurts us defensively. Maddi is tall and very quick -- she can defend a post player or a guard.’’
The loss of Mitzel also hurts an offense that has relied on the starting five for the bulk of the scoring. Ivy Edwards leads the team in scoring (14.1 ppg), followed by Sydney Lloyd (12.0), Mitzel (8.7), Bella Knudsvig (8.0) and Grace Vonesh (8.0).
The five starters’ combined scoring average is 50.8 points. As a team Sacred Heart averages 53.7 points a game.
The Eagles, the No. 3 seed in the west subsection, are 19-7. That includes a 7-2 record in games decided by eight or fewer points.
“Every team has a next-person-up philosophy,’’ Karas said. “All the girls are going to have to step up their offense a bit.
“We’re not as good a team as we are with Maddi. Our five starters have gotten the majority of the minutes and points. Now who will get the 8 to 10 shots Maddi usually takes? Who will make a few more baskets?’’
Sacred Heart plays Stephen-Argyle on Thursday, Feb. 27, in its opening postseason game at 7:45 p.m. at Minnesota-Crookston. Sacred Heart has won two of the three games it’s played this season against the Storm.