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Tigers open section playoffs with 67-43 win over Wildcats

Gretta Hjelseth's 17 points and two 3-pointers each by Becca Gunkel and Anne Rittgers sparked the Nevis girls basketball team to a 40-18 halftime lead en route to a 67-43 victory over Laporte in the first round of the Section 6A East tournament S...

Gretta Hjelseth's 17 points and two 3-pointers each by Becca Gunkel and Anne Rittgers sparked the Nevis girls basketball team to a 40-18 halftime lead en route to a 67-43 victory over Laporte in the first round of the Section 6A East tournament Saturday night at the Park Rapids Century School gym.

Hjelseth opened the game with a 3-pointer and layup off a steal and Jaci Heath hit a jump shot as the Tigers jumped out to a 7-0 lead. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Gunkel extended the lead to 13-2 at the 12:42 mark.

After Kim Hyatt converted a pair of inside baskets, the Tigers went on a 9-0 run to claim a 24-6 lead with 8:04 to play in the first half. A 3-pointer by Rittgers and jumpers by Heath and Hjelseth sparked that run.

Two layups by Hjelseth made it 30-8 before a 3-pointer by Myha White and a layup by Hyatt pulled the Wildcats to within 30-14 at the 3:12 mark.

Two more baskets by Hjelseth, a 3-pointer by Rittgers and a jumper off a rebound by Heath helped the No. 1-seeded Tigers claim a 40-18 lead at the intermission.

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Nevis opened the second half with a 17-2 run to seal the outcome. A layup by Heath, three layups and a 3-pointer by Hjelseth, and three straight jump shots by Savannah Stenberg gave the Tigers a 59-22 advantage with 11:46 remaining.

Nevis' reserves took over as two jumpers by Mandy Allman and jump shots by Elisa Andrus and Emilee Edelman concluded the Tigers' scoring.

White hit another 3-pointer and Eva Lampert hit three jumpers for the No. 8-seeded Wildcats. Sharayah Day also hit a pair of jumpers as Laporte closed out the game with a 21-8 spurt.

Hjelseth finished with a game-high 26 points while Rittgers added 10 points as the Tigers improved to 20-5 on the season. Heath (9), Gunkel (8) and Stenberg (6) combined for 23 more points for Nevis, which defeated Laporte 61-26 and 71-39 during the regular season.

Hyatt (14) and White (10) hit double figures for the Wildcats, who close the season with a 2-23 record.

LAPORTE: Lampert 3 0-1 6, Diaz 1 0-0 2, White 4 0-0 10, Kahlstorf 1 1-4 3, Johannsen 1 0-1 2, Hyatt 7 2-3 14, Day 2 0-1 4. Totals: 19 (FG), 3 of 10 (FT).

NEVIS: Walters 0 0-0 0, Hjelseth 11 2-4 26, Gunkel 2 2-4 8, Heath 4 1-2 9, Rittgers 2 4-4 10, Olson 0 0-2 0, Allman 2 0-0 4, Stenberg 3 0-0 6, Andrus 1 0-0 2, Edelman 1 0-0 2. Totals: 26 (FG), 9 of 16 (FT).

Halftime: Nevis 40, Laporte 18. Three-point field goals: White 2, Hjelseth 2, Gunkel 2, Rittgers 2. Total fouls: Laporte 12, Nevis 12.

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