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Northern Freeze wins opener

MINNEAPOLIS -- It was a strange venue and an unfamiliar position for the Northern Freeze girls basketball team. But neither the 14,625-seat Williams Arena nor the eight-point halftime deficit fazed the unbeaten Freeze. The Freeze outscored Marana...

Northern Freeze
MacKinzie Magner (right) of the Northern Freee and Maranatha Christian's Alexis Long (left) fight for a loose ball in second half of the Freeze's 62-51 win. Herald photo by John Stennes.

MINNEAPOLIS -- It was a strange venue and an unfamiliar position for the Northern Freeze girls basketball team.

But neither the 14,625-seat Williams Arena nor the eight-point halftime deficit fazed the unbeaten Freeze. The Freeze outscored Maranatha Christian 33-14 in the second half and went on to post a 62-51 win in the quarterfinals of the Minnesota Class A state tournament Thursday afternoon.

Liza Hoglo scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while teammate Kinzie Magner added 16 points and seven boards to help Northern Freeze improve to a perfect 28-0 on the season.

"They refused to lose," Northern Freeze coach Tom Mjelde said. "That's what they've done all year."

Northern Freeze advances to today's noon semifinal game against 24-7 Goodhue, which defeated Buffalo Lake-Hector in Thursday's opening game. Maranatha Christian and Northern Freeze followed with a game that featured several momentum swings.

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Maranatha Christian shot 56.5 percent from the field in the first half and a perfect six-for-six from the free-throw line. Guard Alexis Long made four 3-pointers in the first half alone and the Mustangs led 37-29 at the half.

"We knew that we just had to keep pushing," Hoglo said. "We knew we had to get hands in their faces. (Long) is a good player and we couldn't let her sit there and keep shooting."

The second half was a different story.

Maranatha Christian didn't score a point in the opening 7 minutes, 30 seconds of the second half, allowing Northern Freeze to go on a 13-0 run and gain the lead at 42-37.

The Freeze keyed on Long, holding her to just two points. The rest of the Mustangs couldn't hit shots, either. They made just 22 percent of their attempts in the second half.

"I think we picked it up a little bit on defense," Mjelde said. "We tried to shut them down inside -- not allow that lob pass down low -- and we wanted to contest all of their 3-pointers. We tried a couple of different defenders on (Long) and that seemed to work."

Maranatha Christian post Onye Osemenam scored half of her team's points in the second half and kept the game close. Her layup with 4:42 left pulled the Panthers within 52-49, but the Freeze pulled away late.

Hoglo scored on a drive, Lisa Waterworth and Tori Davidson scored down low and Magner finished on a fastbreak to put the game out of reach, as the Freeze crowd stayed on their feet for the final minutes.

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"Kittson Central is really the only team that has been able to stay with us, so this is an eye-opener down here," Hoglo said. "But we handled it well."

Related Topics: PREP SPORTS
Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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