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Girls basketball: Panthers fall to defending 6A champs in title game

Parkers Prairie senior Abby Burquest (left) fights for position on a rebound against Ada-Borup's Leah Sip during the Section 6A championship in Moorhead on Friday night. (David Samson / Forum News Service)1 / 4
Parkers Prairie junior Emily Benzinger withstands the pressure from Ada-Borup during Friday night's Section 6A title game in Moorhead at Concordia College. (David Samson / Forum News Service)2 / 4
Parkers Prairie sophomore Faith Alberts gets to the basket against Ada-Borup-Norman County West on Friday night at Concordia College in Moorhead. (David Samson / Forum News Service) 3 / 4
Abby Burquest and Veronica Schwartz are handed the Section 6A runner up trophy on Friday night after losing to Ada-Borup-Norman County West 66-34. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)4 / 4

The Parkers Prairie girls basketball team saw its magic run out on Friday night when it lost  to the Ada-Borup-Norman County West Cougars (26-2) 66-34 in the Section 6A title game at Concordia College in Moorhead.

The Cougars started each half by taking a double-digit lead. The A-B-NWC shooting clinic was too big of a hill for Parkers Prairie to climb.

“We knew they had a couple girls that could shoot,” Panthers head coach John Noga said. “It was their secondary shooters that were a problem for us. I talked to tons of coaches and they all said that we have to force the ball out of the hands of their shooters. When we did that, their other girls hit shots. They couldn’t miss.”

From the opening tip, it was clear that the Cougars were going to play on a different level than when they played the Panthers earlier this season.

“You could just kind of see it. They had that extra step tonight,” Noga said. “I thought they played more physical than we did. Every time we went down low we got roughed up. They were good and they’re going to be a tough out in the state tournament.”

The 32-point loss was the largest margin of defeat all year for the Panthers. When the final horn sounded, Noga looked at his team with a smile as he handed them their second place medals.

“I’m extremely proud of them,” Noga said. “They’ve done everything I’ve asked them to do all season long. They work hard, they listen, they have great attitudes and it’s just a fun team to coach. It didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to, but we still had a great season.”

The Panthers will hit the court next season without seniors Abby Buquest and Veronica Schwartz. Both of them played a considerable amount of minutes this season.

“They’re great kids,” Noga said. “Both worked extremely hard. Veronica led by example for years here. Abby grew into such a great player for us. I’m going to miss coaching them. Nobody likes seeing seniors walk out the door.”

The Panthers made it one step further this season than they did last year. Noga hopes that next year the returning players are able to take one more.

“We are losing two really good players but we have a lot of talent coming back,” Noga said. “Hopefully this will fuel their fire to work in the offseason. We need to get stronger.”

AB 25 31 - 66

PP 10 24 - 34

AB - Madison Smart 16, Ivy Johnson 13, Rachel Arends 12, Mariah McKeever 11, Leah Sip 8, Kylie Borgen 2, Kora Kitzberger 2, Grace Kroshus 2.

PP - Faith Alberts 13, Veronica Schwartz 9, Emily Benzinger 5, Abby Burquest 5, Hali Moske 2.

Jared Rubado

Jared is a graduate of Augustana University with a degree in journalism and sport management. Jared is a long-time Minnesota sports fan who, for some reason, still has never seen any of his favorite teams win a championship. He is also a movie fanatic. His favorite kind of movies are comic book films and musicals. Jared is from Brainerd, Minnesota and played sports growing up. He was a goalie for his high school hockey team. Jared is excited to contribute to the community of Douglas County and is looking forward to meeting many of you. 

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