Pelican Rapids girls basketball continues to prove the Vikings are for real
MOORHEAD — It was a tournament in August at the Clemens Field House on the campus of College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn., where Pelican Rapids' girls basketball team saw something.
"We competed with all the better teams that were there," Pelican Rapids senior forward Adriana Torres said Saturday after a 70-27 win over Battle Lake at Concordia's Memorial Auditorium. "We realized then we clicked and we had something special."
The Vikings also saw something else.
"It opened our eyes that we can play with these teams, but it also showed us that we have a lot of work to do if we want to play in the state tournament," Pelican Rapids senior guard Kaylie Isman said.
Pelican Rapids moved to 13-1 on the season with its win over Battle Lake on Saturday. The Vikings currently sit atop Minnesota Class 1A, Section 6, above defending section champion Ada-Borup, which has one loss on the season thanks to the Vikings. Pelican Rapids is also ranked No. 5 in Class 1A.
" We knew we had potential to be a competitive team if we could play as a team," Pelican Rapids coach Brian Korf said. "I think the girls have really put a lot of work into it and get along really well, so team chemistry is really good. We had our ups and downs last year. We had some highs last year and I thought we played really well. We knew we had some potential with some younger girls, but they had to work at it to make us more competitive this year."
Greta Tollefson is one of those younger girls. The 5-foot-10 sophomore forward was in the weight room and in the gym four days a week during the summer. She entered Saturday's contest averaging 10 points and 5.3 rebounds a game. She had 22 points and six rebounds on Saturday.
" Last season, when we got pretty far in the playoffs, we felt that we had a really good chance at getting there again, and we want to go farther," Tollefson said. "We have to keep getting better and work hard every single game."
The depth of Pelican Rapids could be seen in the first half of Saturday's matchup. Torres is the leading scorer for the Vikings, averaging 16.6 points a game this season. She didn't score until there was 1 minute, 4 seconds remaining in the first half on Saturday, yet, the Vikings were up 37-14.
At one point in the first half, sitting on zero points, Torres passed up a wide-open 3-pointer to find Tollefson under the basket for an easy layup. She may have reached 1,000 points for her career as a junior, but Torres will find other ways to contribute if the shots aren't falling.
" She's team player. She's going to find the open person," Korf said. "If they're going to take her away, we're going to find other people. We have more people that can score than in the past years."
Isaman is another player closing in on the 1,000th point of her career. She has her eyes on other things after losing in the section semifinals last season.
" We've always had high expectations and goals for ourselves," Isaman said. "Not ending how we wanted last year, we set goals and had girls coming in and putting the time in. During the summer we all noticed we're here for a reason. As the season started going, we realized we can do this."
Pelican Rapids has not won a section championship since 2013.
"I feel if we keep flowing how we're flowing right now, we have a good chance to go pretty far this year," Torres said.
Halftime: Pelican Rapids 40, Battle Lake 14
BL: VanErp 5, Johnson 6, Vondal 6, Marso 8, Scherr 2.
PR: M. Guler 3, Isaman 8, Thompson 7, Tollefson 22, Torres 3, Paulson 8, Stephenson 7, Gummeringer 4, R. Guler 2, Haiby 4, Syverson 2.