The Goodhue Wildcats girls basketball team is heading back to the Class A tournament they dominated a year ago to defend their state title.

Goodhue pulled away from an upset-minded Fillmore Central Falcon team 64-42 Friday night to repeat as Section 1A champions.

Five-foot-5 senior McKenzie Ryan hit a career-high six three-point shots to lead the Wildcats in scoring with 20 points. Six-foot junior Sydney Lodermeier added 18 points and had numerous blocks of shots in the game and 5-foot-8 senior Maddy Miller tallied 17 points.

The first half Fillmore Central led most of the way thanks to some incredible shooting by 5-foot-6 senior Tayah Barnes. Barnes hit 16 first-half points and had three three-point baskets. She was held to four points in the second half when Goodhue did something they have rarely done this season - played man to man defense.

Head coach Josh Wieme credited one of his assistants with the idea and he was willing to give a try. I told Wieme he may have found another tool to use during the state tournament this week.

It took a put-back basket by 5-foot-4 senior Haley Lexvold at the buzzer to give Goodhue a 29-27 lead at the half.

The Wildcats did get Fillmore Central to turn the ball over numerous times in the first half but couldn't cash in very often. They converted 3 of 11 turnovers into points. In the second half, they converted four of six and finished with 17 points off turnovers.

Goodhue finished the game 8 of 14 from the free throw line and Fillmore Central was 6 of 8. The Wildcats had nine turnovers, according to my statistics.

Goodhue will open the state tournament Thursday at 3PM against Granada Huntley East Chain/Truman/Martin Luther.

The Mustangs and Wildcats will play at Mariucci Arena and the game will be on KDHL Radio with coverage beginning at 2:45PM if they are on time.

There are games throughout the day in the University of Minnesota men's hockey arena.

The Wildcats received the No. 2 seed in the Class A tournament, which matches their state ranking. Top ranked Mountain Iron-Buhl is the top seed and did beat Goodhue in December 78-34 at Hopkins High School.

Wieme says the loss provided his team with some incentive to work harder to become better. They would love nothing better than to get another shot at the Rangers because that would mean another title game.

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