The Lady Lions of Minneapolis accomplished a feat that they hadn’t achieved since 2015-2016 on Monday night in Belleville.
With a 36-24 victory over Republic County, Minneapolis finished above .500 in regular season play for the first time in five seasons and for the team’s three seniors–the first time in their careers.
Minneapolis established their tight defense right away. Republic County has struggled to score all year long and they did so again on Monday as the Lady Lions took away any hopes that the Lady Buffs had of getting in to the paint. Instead, Republic County had to settle for long shots and when they missed, Minneapolis’ Courtney Forte made sure that they had no shot at second chance points; dominating the game on defense and the glass.
Meanwhile, on offense, a Cameron Cleveland 3-pointer sparked Minneapolis to an 8-4 lead going in to the second quarter.
Republic County continued to struggle offensively, as the Buffs just had no chance of getting the ball inside of the Minneapolis defense. The Lady Lions were able to navigate around some foul trouble–as both Cleveland and Paeton Smith each picked up two first half fouls–as Minneapolis still held a 15-6 halftime advantage.
After stretching their lead to double-digits at 24-14 after three, Republic County would give Minneapolis one final run. With Cleveland on the bench with four fouls to start the fourth, the Lady Buffs made a 3 pointer and got a transition bucket to all of the sudden cut the lead to five, 26-21 midway through the fourth quarter.
Cleveland immediately reentered the game and Minneapolis never looked back. On back-to-back defensive possessions, Cleveland came up with steals, that then led to transition run outs; twice feeding Alayna Cossaart for easy buckets. Republic County quickly faded away once the Buffs could not count on transition buckets, with Minneapolis using Forte’s lock-down defense on their way to win number eight in their last 11 games.
Republic County (3-13, 3-5 NCAA) saw its two-game winning streak entering in to Monday snapped. Emily Jensik led the Lady Buffs with 12 points in the loss.
Minneapolis (10-9, 6-3 NCAA) clinches sole-possession of second place in league play and secures an above .500 record to end the regular season. Cossaart led MHS with 14 points–tying a career-high, while Cleveland scored 10 points and with three blocked shots, had the H&R “Block of the Game” on Monday.
However, the Nex-Tech Wireless “Player of the Game” is once again Forte, who just missed out on a double-double with eight points and 15 rebounds.
The Minneapolis girls next play on Monday in the first round of sub-state. They’ll be the No. 6 seed in the Norton sub-state and play on the road in the first round. Live coverage will be on 92.7 The New Zoo.
MINNEAPOLIS BOYS 56, Republic County 29
Nolan White remains “white hot” for the Lions helping them win their third consecutive game on the year and seventh in-a-row over the Buffaloes.
The Lion senior–who has been averaging nearly 22 ppg in his last seven games entering Monday–was unstoppable making four 3’s in the first half, on his way to a 20 point first half performance.
Republic County played a 2-3 zone all night, which meant that the Lions had to figure out ways to score without utilizing their post play early on and White made sure that the Buffaloes would have no thoughts of an upset with his shooting barrage.
After a slow start, in which MHS led 14-9 after one, Minneapolis took off, outscoring the Buffs 33-9 over the next two quarters to run away with the game. Minneapolis led 29-13 at halftime and 47-18 going in to the final period.
Republic County (2-12, 0-7 NCAA) did have some success offensively with its two bigs, Caleb Bates and Blake Aurand. However, neither were enough to keep close to the Lions. Aurand led the team with 12 points on Monday.
Minneapolis (13-5, 6-2 NCAA) moves in to sole possession of second place in league play with the win. Spencer Davidson once again landed a double-double with 15 points and 10 boards, Brody Vance finished with another double-digit rebound effort and John Nelson wins the H&R “Block of the Game.”
White is the night’s Nex-Tech Wireless “Player of the Game” as he finished with 23 points for the game–his eighth 20 point performance in his last 12 games.
Minneapolis will have a first round home game in sub-state for the third-straight year. They will either be the No. 2 or 3 seed in the Norton sub-state and play next Tuesday on 92.7 The New Zoo.