The task at hand was a difficult one for the Lady Lions, and facing the reigning runners up in the Class 2A state tournament from a season ago proved too much, as Minneapolis fell to the Lady Mustangs of Valley Heights 40-28.
Minneapolis got behind the proverbial eight ball early and was never able to recover, trailing at the end of the first quarter 16-3. The defense tightened up in the second quarter holding Valley Heights to just eight points in the period, the Mustangs lead was 24-10 at halftime.
Trailing by as many as 18 in the third quarter, the Lions offense finally found life. Closing the frame with a 6-2 run over the final 2:34 had them within 12 through three periods at 34-22. The aforementioned damage had already been done however as Minneapolis was never able to get over the hump, falling in defeat to Valley Heights by a 40-28 final.
Seniors Kylie Fuller and Karisma Vignery each had nine points to lead the Lions scoring attack. Freshman Maddy Vermetten led all scorers with 12 for Valley Heights. The Lady Lions drop to 3-6 on the season.
It was yet another nail bitter in the nightcap on the boys side, and in the end the Lions would come away victorious defeating the visiting Mustangs 50-49.
A back and forth first quarter of action saw Valley Heights lead at its conclusion 16-12. The Mustangs would push their lead out to eight at 20-12 with 5:27 to go in the first half before the Lions mounted a comeback. A 14-5 run for Minneapolis to close the quarter gave them the lead at the halftime break 26-25.
Both teams traded blows throughout the third quarter with neither team holding more than a possession lead. Numerous lead changes would allow the Mustangs to regain the lead at the end of the frame 37-36.
It was a 9-2 run to begin the fourth quarter for Minneapolis that pushed the Lions ahead by two possessions at 45-39 with 5:16 remaining, but then the offense went cold. An 8-0 run by Valley Heights gave the lead back over to the Mustangs 47-45 with 1:56 remaining off a huge three from Jackson O’Toole. A Kaden Griffin bucket with under a minute to play tied things up at 47 all, and with under :30 seconds left Minneapolis would regain the lead with a clutch three ball from Kaden McCullick. A missed free throw from Nolan White with just over seven seconds to go would give Valley Heights one final opportunity, but Cameron Beardsley’s three as time expired was off the mark, giving Minneapolis the hard fought 50-49 win.
Griffin’s 15 led all Lions scorers. O’Toole had 20 to lead all scorers. Minneapolis has now won three straight and improved to 7-2 on the season.
Next up for the Lions is a NCAA match-up, on the road on Friday against rival Beloit.