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No. 8 ranked Hancock falls to No. 5 ranked Minneota in nail-biter

On Sat., Jan. 22, the Hancock Owl girls basketball team hosted the #5 ranked Minneota Vikings and lost a heartbreaker by a score of 48-46.

"We knew that the Vikings would be out for revenge. We beat them 52-37 last year on their home court which included a 9/14 performance from beyond the arc on the road. " said Coach Jodi Holleman. "This year we struggled from beyond the arc shooting a mere 3/14 which is not typical in our home gym."

The Vikings play outstanding man to man defense which created some rushed shot attempts in the first half. Owl point. guard, Aria Walstad, got into some early foul trouble which forced Hancock to change offensive and defensive strategies. The Vikings went on a 7-0 run to end the half and take a 23-14 halftime lead.

Hancock turned up the defensive pressure in the second half and held Minneota to 7 buckets. Hancock then took a gamble in the final 5 minutes and tightened up the presses to bounce back into the game. Courtney Greiner had 5 huge steals to spark the Owls. The team also started attacking the basket and getting to the free-throw line.

With 30 seconds remaining, Illisa Koehl drove to the bucket and scored and was fouled for a three point play to make the score 45-44 in favor of Minneota.

Hancock fouled Kelsey Hennen and she went 2-2 from the line to go up 47-44. Aria Walstad quickly pushed the ball up the court and fed the ball inside to Kendra Schmidgall for two points for a score of .47-46 with the Owls trailing by one.

Hancock quickly fouled Taya Kockelmann and she went 1-2 from the line with 5.6 seconds remaining and the Owls trailing 48-46. Hancock then pushed the ball up the court quickly and got the ball into Kendra Schmidgall's hands and she had a nice look at the basket, but the ball rimmed out.

"As a coach, you always want to be in a position to have an opportunity to win the game." said Holleman. "The girls did everything I asked them to do and I did not see the "deer in the headlight" looks at all during crunch time. The girls have nothing to hang their heads about. They played with a ton of heart and hustle the entire night.

"I was very pleased that we were able to hold Minneota's leading scorer Ashlynn Muhl to 13 points on the night" added Holleman. "I was not happy that we didn't do a better job of boxing her out as she pulled down 14 rebounds."

The Owls only had 6 turnovers on the night compared to 18 for the Vikings.

Illissa Koehl led the scoring with 17 points which includes 11/14 from the free-throw line. Kendra Schmidgall followed with 14 points. Shae Brown hit a pair of treys for 6 points, Courtney Greiner scored 4 points, Aria Walstad hit a huge trey in the final minutes, and Abby Ascheman scored 2 points.

The Subway Player of the Game was Illissa Koehl. The balls thrown out were sponsored by Mediacom.

The Owls traveled to C-G-B for Pheasant Conference action Tuesday night. They will play Ortonville at home on Feb. 1