Girls' basketball: Chargers top Battlers for milestone victory
The Brandon-Evansville girls knew the milestone their head coach was going for last Thursday night against Battle Lake.
With Dick Simpson's 500th career win on the line, the Chargers went out and played inspired basketball to pick up a 52-46 win over Battle Lake in Brandon.
Brandon-Evansville built a lead at halftime by controlling the glass and dominating down low. Heather Strese was a big part of that as her put-back late in the half made it 18-11 after the Chargers had fallen behind right out of the gate. They went on to take a 24-19 lead at the half.
Battle Lake came out aggressive in the second half. The Battlers went on a 10-3 run aided by Brandon-Evansville turnovers. That allowed them to take a 29-27 lead before the Chargers were forced to take a timeout.
They adjusted to Battle Lake's 1-2-2 zone press after that. The Chargers were able to get into their half-court set and work the ball around the perimeter until things opened up down low.
Strese and senior Heather Dickey made it count when they got the ball in the lane. Both had 10 rebounds. Strese finished with 25 points and Dickey poured in 15, including a big three from the right wing in the second half.
"We didn't have a very good start to the game or the second half," Simpson said. "But we played hard once we found our offense and the set we wanted to use. They stayed in that 1-2-2 the whole time, but the girls handled that pretty well. We got some good looks, and Dickey and Strese kind of carried us there."
Brandon-Evansville made enough plays down the stretch to secure the win. The two teams were tied at 46 with 1:30 left before the Chargers went on a 6-0 run to close the game.
All of those came from the free throw line. Battle Lake fouled Dickey underneath its own basket after missing two contested shots within five feet. Dickey stepped to the line and calmly drained both free throws. Tasmine Okerlund added two more from the line to make it a two-possession game with 34 seconds left before Strese put the finishing touches on the win in the final seconds.
"Everyone was hustling, rebounding, doing everything we needed to do," Strese said. "Practice has been paying off a lot. Everyone is playing hard and trying their best, and it showed tonight."
The Chargers' advantage on the boards and at the free throw line made the biggest difference in the game. Brandon-Evansville outrebounded the Battlers 30-24 and hit seven more free throws. They also held Battle Lake to just 17-of-55 shooting on the night.
The end result was win No. 500 for Simpson. More importantly to him was that it came against a team in front of them in the Little Eight Conference standings.
"I'm more happy for the kids to pull out a win like this," he said. "We've had a lot of games where we had four, five-point losses, where we've been so close to getting them but just haven't been able to quite do it. So to be able to do it against Battle Lake is good for them."
BATTLE LAKE 19 27 - 46
BRANDON-EVANSVILLE 24 28 - 52
TEAM STATISTICS - Brandon-Evansville - Field goals - 18-48; Free throws - 15-22; Rebounds - 30; Turnovers - 15; Battle Lake - Field goals - 17-55; Free throws - 8-14; Rebounds - 24; Turnovers - 11
BRANDON-EVANSVILLE - Kinsley Randt - 2 points, 4 assists; Megan Friedrich - 6 points; Tasmine Okerlund - 4 points; Dickey - 15 points, 10 rebounds; Strese - 25 points, 10 rebounds
BATTLE LAKE - Cheyanne O'Neal - 6 points; Carmen Malmstrom - 3 points; Heather Olson - 5 points; Carley VanWatermulen - 3 points; Nicole Rilla - 9 points; Lindsay Nelson - 13 points; Sam VanErp - 5 points; Dana Meemken - 2 points