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Lady Owls take first in Pacesetter tourney

The Hancock Lady Owls basketball team won a 10-team Pacesetter tournament on Saturday at the University of Minnesota, Morris.

The Hancock girls basketball team hosted the Pacesetter tournament at the UMM PE Center with YME, Hillcrest Lutheran Academy, Hancock, WCA, Albany, Paynesville, RTR, Buffalo Lake-Hector, Osakis, Minnewaska, and Dassel Cokato participating.

The champion Lady Owls were followed by Albany in second and Buffalo Lake-Hector in third.

In the championship game, the Owls were matched up against Albany Purple, which is Albany's junior varsity team, and won 50-35.

In the opening round the Lady Owls matched up against HLA and defeated the Comets 36-19.

The Comets played man-to-man defense, which caused 13 Hancock turnovers. But the Owls took better care of the basketball in the second half and crashed the board. Kendra Schmidgall pulled down eight rebounds and Courtney Greiner pulled down seven. Aria Walstad picked off five steals and dished out four assists.

In the second round the Owls were matched up against an aggressive YME team and won 36-23.

"We had a slow start due to the fact that we played back to back on the big college floor," Owls coach Jodi Holleman said. "But the girls bounced back strong. I was very pleased with the balanced scoring attack by the three seniors. All of the girls played outstanding defense in this game. I was also pleased that we only had five turnovers in the game."

In the third round, Hancock was matched up against the Albany Huskies and won 37-25.

"It was awesome to defeat a quality team like the Albany Huskies," said Holleman. "Once again, we had a balanced scoring attack and played some excellent team basketball. The Owls got the presses going in this game which resulted in a lot of lay-ups. This was a nice team win for Hancock."

In a sign of the strength of the Albany basketball program, the Huskies' junior varsity team advanced to the title game with a win over Dassel-Cokato and Buffalo Lake-Hector, which was a state tournament last year.

"This young team was read hot from the perimeters the entire game, but they could not stop the Owls inside attack of Schmidgall, Greiner and Nelson," said Holleman, noting that the trio combined for 37 points.

Once gain, the Owls effectively crashed the boards, pulling down 32 rebounds.

"Overall, I was very please with with the performance of all the girls," Holleman said." The are coming off an intense three day dribble camp and they looked fundamentally solid."

Aria Walstad did an outstanding job of handling the ball the entire day and did a great job of anticipating on the presses as she led the team with 12 steals on the day, Holleman said.

Lauren Nelson played her best basketball of the summer as she hit numerous shots both inside and out on the perimeter at critical moments, Holleman said.

Illissa Koehl showed unbelievable hustle the entire day, Holleman said, as she was all over the court. She was the most consistent player in all four games and has developed a nice pull-up jumper to go with her dribble drive.

Kendra Schmidgall put the team on her back in the championship game and showed a lot of determination. She has been lifting weights and it really showed on the court.

Olivia Koehl played wit6h a ton of heart and hustle the entire tournament. She has a huge smile at all times and she is probably the most athletic girl on the team.

Tara Flaten is the most improved players. She is very quick and has developed a nice perimeter shot.

Abby Ascheman crashed the boards with all the confidence in the world and has become an excellent free-throw shooter.

Shae Brown has really improved with her left hand and always show a lot of hustle out on the court. She has the ability to get her hands on the ball on the front end of the pressed which causes havoc for opposing guards.

Courtney Greiner does an outstanding job of rebounding and handles the ball incredibly well for a post player. She has also developed a nice shot from the perimeter.

Serandon Bigalke has put in a huge summer after her ACL surgery. She is bouncing back strong and is very determined to gain some varsity minutes. She is a very dedicated player.

Sami Schmidgall has also put in a huge summer and improved by leaps and bounds. She has a very bright future ahead of her.

Gabby Nienhaus has really improved this summer. She is going to be an excellent post player.

Holleman said: Special thanks to Amy Brown for organizing the concessions and making the BBQs. Also, thanks to all the moms, dads, brothers, and sisters for helping at concessions, running clock, cleaning up, etc. Thank you to Bill and Alison Bigalke for doing stats and running clock. Thanks to Sereina Holleman, Joyce Holleman, and Pete Holleman for running the gate receipts.

It was a wonderful tournament. Thanks girls, for all your hard work and dedication.