Zimmerman came into our Game of the Week #12 as one of Minnesota’s hottest teams with the longest winning streak, tied for the most wins (20) and the highest scoring average (71.5 ppg) in Class AAA. Add the home court…
Zimmerman came into our Game of the Week #12 as one of Minnesota’s hottest teams with the longest winning streak, tied for the most wins (20) and the highest scoring average (71.5 ppg) in Class AAA. Add the home court advantage, and I was certainly anticipating a Zimmerman win going into Saturday’s game. But Hermantown had some advantages, too—a tall, athletic lineup, 19 wins and the best defensive scoring average in Class AAA (38.6).
And, it was the Hermantown Hawks who put on a clinic, scoring the game’s 1st 8 points and never letting the Thunder back into it, winning 68-53. Hermantown’s 6-1 junior guard Sierra Bolen, 6-0 senior center Jordyn Thomas and 6-2 junior center Ellie Gamradt, who came off the bench, scored 54 of the Hawks 68 points on a ridiculous 21-of-29 shooting.
Their inside passing was a beautiful thing to see, especially 6-1 junior forward Taylor Vold, who scored just 2 points but added 5 assists. The Hawks moved the ball and moved without the ball, and assisted on 18 of their 27 buckets.
Hermantown shocked the speedy Thunder, scoring their first 6 points in transition as Bolen beat Zimmerman down court twice, then threw the assist pass on the third bucket. Thomas scored the next 7 points. When sophomore point guard Maddie Foster hit a 3 and Gamradt scored her 1st 2 off the bench, it was 16-3. The biggest lead of the 1st half was at 33-13.
The Thunder never got their vaunted running game going, nor their pressure defense either. The real cause of their loss, however, was their simple inability to stop the Hermantown offense and their difficulty in getting their own shots to drop. The Hawks finished the day shooting 27-of-46 (58 percent) and got short-range opportunities in the half court as surely as they did on the run.
Zimmerman, meanwhile, shot 21 percent in the 1st half, and 31 in the 2nd. (And, they made just 14-of-31 FT for the day.) Their leading scorer, sophomore guard Alyssa Daugherty, almost matched her season’s average (19.5 ppg) with 18, but shot just 4-of-19. They got a lot of open looks from the perimeter, but it wouldn’t go down. On the other hand, they took it to Hermantown’s big girls inside a lot and came away with very little other than getting stuffed 6 times, 4 by Bolin.
As for their pressure D, well, Hermantown did end up with 20 turnovers but most of them came around their offensive FT line and didn’t generate much in the way of easy baskets for the Thunder. The Hawks starting point guard, senior Jaelyn Bushey, hurt her shoulder early on and sat out most of the way. Her backup, Foster, was way more aggressive than what she had the skill to execute. She scored 7 points on 2-of-5 shooting but turned it over 6 times, mostly late in the 2nd half. The Hawks had just 7 turnovers at the half.
Zimmerman was without 5-10 forward Naomi Hagstrom, who went down for the year with a knee injury. She is the Thunder’s #2 scorer at 16 and #2 rebounder at 6. That’s a big loss but the Thunder remains the favorite in Section 5AAA.
Now, Bushy has a bum shoulder for Hermantown, and her backups are a bit loosey-goosey with the basketball, so we’ll just have to see if that is a problem going forward.
Hermantown and Grand Rapids will duke it out for Section 7AAA.