Henning holds on to beat Parkers Prairie in battle between two Section 6A hopefuls

Parkers Prairie got it's final big test before the end of the regular season. The second-ranked Henning Hornets beat the Panthers 54-46 on Saturday afternoon behind a big game from its star.

Lydia Guenther (right) and Megan Rinicker look for a rebound on a first-half free throw attempt during Parkers Prairie's 54-46 loss to Henning on Saturday afternoon. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

With one week left in the regular season, the Parkers Prairie girls basketball team got a chance to play the top-ranked team in Section 6A. The Henning Hornets, last year's section champion, held on to win by a score of 54-46, but more importantly, the Panthers got one last test before playoffs.

The Panthers (12-3) know how they’ve stacked up against some of the other top teams in the section, but Henning is a different beast. The Hornets are the second-ranked Class A team in the state at 13-1, according to Minnesota Basketball News.

“Games like this get you ready for what the tournament is going to be like,” Parkers Prairie head coach John Noga said.

Faith Alberts gives a no-look pass for a three-pointer in the first half on Saturday during Parkers Prairie's 54-loss to Henning. Alberts had a game-high 17 points.


Henning jumped out to an eight-point lead midway through the first half on five combined three-pointers from seniors Ellie Dague and Megan Weber. The Panthers cut the lead to three out of a timeout, but the Hornets answered with a run of their own capped by a Dague three to end the first half.

In February, Dague scored her 2,000th career point. Noga knew that game-planning for her is about picking his poison.

“I thought we did a great job of keeping her in front and making her take outside shots,” Noga said. “She does such a great job of penetrating and kicking to those two-point layups. It’s deflating to the defense when she does that. I have to give her credit for making those outside shots. That’s a tougher shot for most high school girls than getting to the rim. Overall, we made her work really hard, and she came up clutch.”

On the flip side, Panthers’ senior forward Faith Alberts matched Dague offensively. Both girls scored a game-high 17 points. Alberts scored her 2,000th point against Rothsay on Feb. 25. Saturday’s Section 6A matchup featured a bevy of talent on both sides of the court.

Megan Blake takes a three-pointer in the first half of Parkers Prairie's 54-46 loss to Henning on Saturday afternoon. Blake had 14 points in the loss. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

“Megan Blake has played great this year, and Faith has been Faith,” Noga said. “These girls from Henning are real good. Our girls know the Henning girls well, and they talk about them and have a friendly rivalry. They respect each other and play hard against each other. That’s nice to see.”

Parkers Prairie did a better job of facilitating on offense in the second half. Despite having trouble knocking down shots, Noga was thrilled to see how much his team has improved offensively against great teams.


“We had a couple of rim-hangers that looked like they were going in,” Noga said. “Especially for Megan, who took so many good shots, and they just weren’t going in. That momentum and how those shots swing affects confidence.”

The Panthers got a boost off the bench from sophomore Jada Lego. She had four points in the second half and helped Parkers Prairie keep within striking distance.

“She did the little things,” Noga said. “She made the right passes at the right times to the right people. She was in the right position to catch a pass from Faith and score. Faith, much like Dague, garners a lot of attention from other teams. Our girls need to be ready to catch and shoot.”

Jada Lego (right) makes and overhead pass to a teammate in the first half of Parkers Prairie's 54-46 loss to Henning on Saturday. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

Henning never let Parkers Prairie come within one possession in the second half. The eight-point loss for the Panthers is their largest of the season. Parkers Prairie has been outscored by a combined 12 points between all three losses.

The final week of the regular season will feature two more Section 6A games for the Panthers against Ashby (3-11) and Brandon-Evansville (6-8). If Parkers Prairie wins out, they will likely lock up the second seed in the 6A-South bracket. West Central Area (11-4) will be in third with the same section record but will lose the tie-breaker via its head-to-head loss to Parkers Prairie. Hancock has likely locked up the top-seed in the South already with an undefeated record.

“I’m happy with how everything went today,” Noga said. “We have another week until the playoffs. We need to make sure we are healthy and feeling good. On our side of the bracket, I think there are four or five teams that could come out of this section. Even teams like (Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley) and (Wheaton-Herman-Norcross) play teams so tough. We are really looking forward to it.”


Ana Marquardt brings the ball up the court for the Panthers in the first half of Parkers Prairie's 54-46 loss to Henning on Saturday afternoon. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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