Last fall, Section 8AA newcomer Fergus Falls kept the Thief River Falls girls from making a second straight trip to the state high school volleyball tournament. Saturday, first-year Section 8AAA member Albany ended the Prowlers’ basketball season with a hold-your-breath 68-67 tournament semifinal victory at St. Cloud State University.
It extended run of frustration for a Thief River Falls program that has put together an envious 72-10 record over the past four seasons, only to fall a game short of the section finals each year.
The Prowlers went 23-4 in 2012 and 25-3 in 2013, but lost to Alexandria in the section semifinals both years.
They avoided the Cardinals as a post-season foe this time, but met the same fate in finishing 24-3.
Albany led 42-34 at the half, but the contest was a toss-up at the very end.
“It’s one of those games that went back and forth throughout,” explained Thief River Falls coach Jeff Loe. “They had a run before half. We came out and had a run in the second half, putting us ahead.”
The lead changed hands on several occasions, with a Brooke Yaggie 3-pointer providing the Prowlers with a late-game lead.
With nine seconds left and trailing 67-66, the Huskies ran an in-bounds play from their own baseline. They got the ball to Amazih Eickhoff, who scored with six seconds to play.
Thief River Falls got the ball down the floor for a final shot, but in the hurry to get off the potential game-winner against the Huskies’ defense, the play did not go smoothly.
“We were unable to get a good shot off at the end,” explained Loe. “Frustrating finish to a great season.”
Four Prowlers hit double figures as Yaggie scored 20 points, Meleah Biermaier 18, Jenna Tadych 15 and Madison Brekke 12. The Huskies countered with Vanessa Spohn scoring 19 points, Erickhoff 17 and Erin Navratil 14.
Shooting wasn’t a problem for the Prowlers, who put together a 66 percent 27-for-41 performance from the field and made 10 of 14 free throw attempts.
The Huskies’ 42 percent 23-for-55 shooting included 10 treys. The Prowlers had three 3-pointers. The Huskies went 12-for-14 at the line.
Thief River Falls finished with a 28-25 rebound edge. The Prowlers also had more turnovers, 17-12.
Albany will face Fergus Falls in the title game Friday at Minnesota State University Moorhead. The top-seeded Otters, a 66-47 winner over Alexandria in the first half of the Saturday twinbill at SCSU, are 27-1. The second-seeded Huskies are 26-1.
Fergus Falls, Albany and the third-seeded Prowlers, were top ten-ranked teams in Minnesota Class AAA basketball most of the season.
“I was proud of how hard we played,” said Loe. “The girls never gave up. Just an unfortunate event that didn’t go our way.”
It was the final high school basketball game for Yaggie and Courtney Amirayan, the two seniors on the Prowlers’ 2013-14 roster.
1 2 T
Thief River Falls 34 33 67
Albany 42 26 68
TRF - Brooke Yaggie 20, Meleah Biermaier 18, Jenna Tadych 15, Madison Brekke 12, Tiahna Nicholson 2.
Albany - Emily Schoenberg 9, Amazih Eickhoff 17, Abby Silvers 2, Vanessa Spohn 19, Sidney Schiffler 3, Kayla Reber 4, Erin Navratil 14.