Hornets take on Prowlers at home
By Barbie Porter
The last second ticked off the clock at the Frazee High School girls basketball game on Thursday, Dec. 30. The Hornets had a one-point deficit and battled back in the second half to potentially steal the game from the Thief River Falls Prowlers.
The ball hit the rim and bounced. Those in the gym held their breath, and then fell from grace into the opponents hands to seal the Prowler win, 42-41.
While there is always a clear victor in basketball, the Lady Hornets showcased many attributes that likely had the coaches proud of the effort.
From the tip-off in the first half, the Hornet defense kept the Prowler’s in check. Sticking to their opponents like shadows, the Lady Hornets swatted shots in the paint, aggressively fought for jump balls and evaded screens. With such tight defense, the Prowlers were only able to etch out a small lead as Frazee struggled on offense.
It turned out the Prowler’s defense was strong as well, and created what appeared to be a force field in the paint that kept the Hornets shooting from the perimeter. Harley Kropuenske broke the pattern, charged into the lane and sunk a lay up. In the wake of her charge, teamates snuck in for short jumpers and lay up attempts. Add the versatile shooting abilities of the Hornets and the stellar passing game they exhibited, it seemed that catching up was a matter of settling the nerves.
Like clockwork, the Hornets hit a new gear before the end of the half. Fake passes misdirected opponents, fearless lay ups sent shooters to the line and play executions provided free and clear shots at the hoop.
As the first half came to a close, the refs met mid court. One said, “They’re going at it pretty good down there.” The other two nodded, noting the intense play was up and down the court as the Prowlers led into the half by six, 20-14.
Frazee returned to the court more charged than when they went into the locker room. The Hornet fans seemed to have saved their energy for the second half push as well.
Jayden Sonnenberg showed she is a force in the paint; a workhorse for the team who is willing to take a charge, strip the ball, block a shot, secure a rebound and glide with purpose toward the basket for lay ups (often resulting in additional free throw points). The Hornets concluded the game with a 63 percent free throw percentage, showing they put in practice time to make sure those shots fall.
While each member of the Hornet team has attributes that make this year’s cagers stand out, it is their ability to flow up and down the court as a team that may be most impressive to sports fans. One example was seen when Sonnenberg captured a Prowler rebound, saw a sprinting Hornet mid-court and completed a spectacularly accurate long pass. Her teammate, Annika Reierson, potentially could’ve snaked through her defender, after all she showcased incredible speed and ball handling abilities throughout the game. Instead, she used her court vision and popped a crisp pass to a teammate who was waiting next to the basket.
Reierson didn’t rest on the successful play. She hustled back down court to disrupt a Prowler play. Then Kate Vigen showed her opponents they wouldn’t have any luck getting to the hoop in her direction either. Kropuenske stopped the drive in the paint in her tracks, as her teammates swarmed to force a jump ball.
Frazee’s perimeter shooters warmed up and began sinking the long ball when it was needed most, inching the score to a one point difference with a little less than 8 minutes to go in the game.
Like two well-trained boxers, the teams traded blows with each direct hit stealing the lead from their opponent. It was with 15 seconds on the clock that Frazee reached 41 points and Thief River Falls, 42. While the battle never ended with a no-quit mentality of the Hornets, they were unable to score again, nor were their opponents.
Stats: Vigen 5; Reierson 5; Karger 13; Sonnenberg 6; Eckert 6; Mayfield 4; Kropuenske 2.