Determined B-G-MR reaches the Minnesota state Class A girls basketball tourney for the first time since 2007
Gators to play No. 2 seed Hayfield in Thursday's quarterfinal round
MINNEAPOLIS – A season ago, the Badger-Greenbush-Middle River Gators ended their season earlier than they wanted – falling to Grygla-Goodridge in the postseason.
“The girls were determined to do better this year,” said B-G-MR coach Brad Dahl. “They’ve worked really hard and came together as the season went along. And they’re jelling at the right time.”
And that determination has led B-G-MR to this season’s Minnesota state Class A girls basketball tournament, where the unseeded Gators will take on No. 2 seed Hayfield on Thursday at 3 p.m. at Maturi Pavillion on the University of Minnesota campus.
With considerable talent returning from last season, Dahl believed his team stood a decent chance of reaching the state tournament.
“I believed they could make it but there was some shakiness along the way,” he said. “We had a team talk. We flat out said we have players with great ability. But we had to understand that we could accomplish good things.”
The Gators, 26-3, put together a challenging schedule. Their three losses came against Thompson, the N.D. Class B state runner-up, Thief River Falls and Fosston.
B-G-MR lost to Fosston on Jan. 17. Since that loss, the Gators have rattled off 16 straight wins. And its biggest win came against Fosston in the Section 8A title game at Engelstad Arena in Thief River Falls.
The Gators lost 55-41 to Fosston in January but rebounded for a 53-50 win over the Greyhounds in the section final and a berth in the state tournament.
“Sometimes a loss helps you refocus,” said Dahl.
In the section final, B-G-MR led Fosston by five points at halftime. But the Greyhounds went on a 15-3 run to start the second half, putting the Gators’ state tournament hopes on the ropes.
“When we went down seven, we hit a big three-pointer,” said Dahl. “And we usually don’t make a lot of three-pointers.”
Kenzie Dahl, a 5-foot-8 sophomore, hit that three-pointer. And another trey was needed a few minutes later and her sister, Cassidy Dahl, delivered it.
“We made some big ones and the momentum began to switch,” said the B-G-MR coach.
And Kinzley Hanson, the Gators’ leading scorer, scored the last seven points to send B-G-MR to the Twin Cities for the team’s first state tournament appearance since 2007 – the year both of the school’s boys and girls teams reached the tournament.
The Gators have been dominant this season, averaging 62.6 points per game while allowing 41.1 ppg.
And they’ve outrebounded teams by an average of 10 boards per game.
B-G-MR is a hard-nosed defensive team, evidenced by its 16.0 steals per game.
And balance is the key to its offense.
Hanson has the team’s top average, scoring 13.6 points per game. Two other players average double figures, Jade Reese (11.4 ppg) and Kenzie Dahl (10.1 ppg).
The Gators’ opponent, Hayfield, is 27-3 entering the tournament. One of its wins this season was a 94-49 win over Roseau.
Hayfield played in last season’s state tournament. The Vikings also played a challenging schedule this season and have been in a number of close games. Six of their wins have been by five or fewer points.
Junior all-state players Kristen Watson (19.4 ppg) and Natalie Beaver (17.2 ppg) lead the Vikings in scoring.
The Gators practiced Wednesday at St. Catherine’s University in preparation for their state opener.
“I hope we can make some noise down here,” said Dahl.
B-G-MR at a glance
Coach: Brad Dahl, eighth season
Leading scorers: Kinsley Hanson, 13.6 ppg; Jade Reese, 11.4 ppg; Kenzie Dahl 10.1 ppg; Tiffany Blazek 9.4 ppg; Hannah Bergsnev 7.0 ppg; Cassie Dahl 5.3 ppg
Leading rebounders: Kinsley Hanson 8.0 rpg; Jade Reese 7.6 rpg; Kenzie Dahl 4.8 rpg; Hannah Bergsnev 3.9 rpg
State tournament history: B-G-MR’s last state appearance came in 2007.
Coach Brad Dahl: "We don’t have one player always leading us in scoring. We have 2-3-4 players who can get into double figures. That’s a nice problem to have. Our players know each other so well.”