The Section 2AA girls basketball tournament opened on Tuesday and the No. 3 seeded New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva Panthers hit the ground running with a 75-47 victory over No. 6 Maple River.
Going into Tuesday’s first round matchup, the Panthers had gotten the better of the Eagles during the regular season. NRHEG picked up a 56-42 road victory on Jan. 6 and pulled out a 63-59 home win on Jan. 31.
The Panthers held Maple River to 16 points in the first half and went into halftime up 19 with a 35-16 points. They outscored the Eagles 40-31 in the second half to secure the 28-point win and their advancement to the quarterfinals.
“Our girls were very focused, we rebounded and ran the floor well,” said NRHEG head coach Onika Peterson. “It was a great team win. We get to live another day and prepare for Waseca on Thursday.”
NRHEG was led offensively by seniors Erin Jacobson and Sidney Schultz with Jacobson recording a team-high 22 points and Schultz following with 20 points. Faith Nielsen followed in double figures with 12 points. Izley Boerner added six points, Quinn VanMaldeghem added five points and 10 rebounds and Hallie Schultz and Camryn VanMaldeghem added four points each.
Now the Panthers set their sights on Thursday night’s Section 2AA quarterfinals matchup with the No. 2 seeded Waseca Bluejays, who are coming off a 62-29 blowout of No. 7 Blue Earth Area.
Thursday will mark the first time this season the Panthers and the Bluejays will see each other after their original regular season finale game set to be played in Waseca on Thursday, Feb. 23 was cancelled due to the winter storms.
The winner between No. 3 NRHEG and No. 2 Waseca will advance to the subsection finals and the Section 2AA semifinals to face the winner of No. 1 Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial and No. 4 Waterville-Elysian-Morristown.