The Kenyon-Wanamingo girls basketball team had about a three-minute stretch in Friday's game where they didn't score and their defense didn't get stops.

That translated into a Rochester Lourdes 67-61 win, but Knights head coach Brent Lurken couldn't be prouder of his team. Neither could I.

They almost outdid Goodhue's incredible comeback win against Lyle/Pacelli last year. The Wildcats were down 10 points with two minutes to go and won the game in regulation.

Friday night Kenyon-Wanamingo was behind by 10 with 92 seconds to go and got a steal with a chance to tie in the final 20 seconds but came up just short on the layup attempt.

The Knights then had to foul and credit the Lourdes Eagles, after shooting two for their first 10 from the free throw line the Eagles hit the free throws in the final seconds to advance to the Minnesota State AA Girls Basketball Tournament.

Rochester Lourdes took a page out of the Winona Cotter book when defending Kenyon-Wanamingo's oustanding guard Mara Quam. They got physical with her.

A lot of Quam's game is her ability to get to the free throw line and, despite that physicality, the officials were not going to call any hip checks as I call them when Quam was trying to wiggle between defenders and score.

Kenyon-Wanamingo had just 10 free throw attempts. Quam was 7 of 8.

Rochester Lourdes was 12 of 23 from the free throw line and, in the final few minutes when the Knights were forced to foul, cashed in on 10 of 13.

After Quam finished with 15 first-half points the Knights were ahead 32-29.

One of the Lourdes assistant coaches told me before the game if his team could hold Quam to at or near her season average of 28 points he liked his team's chances. She finished with 26 points and Savannah Bleess was also held under her 15-point average with 11 points.

For a period in the second half the Eagles went to a box and one that Kenyon-Wanamingo has seen before. In my opinion the Knights rushed a few of their possessions against it and took some incredibly deep outside shots.

Probably more importantly, the Kenyon-Wanamingo defense broke down on repeated trips to give Rochester Lourdes a double-digit cushion heading into the final minutes of the game.

Then Quam and company went to work getting repeated steals and points to beat the Eagles down the floor before they could set up any defense and nearly made the complete comeback.

I'm going to miss watching the competitive spirit of Quam and Bleess, the incredible calm Megan Flom can play with even in scramble time, fearlessness of 5-foot-2 Kasey Dummer, who would back down from nobody, and the willingness of Morgan Burow to do the not-so-little things you never see in a box score.

The cupboard is not bare by any means for Kenyon-Wanamingo next year, but it's hard to replace the all-time leading scorer with more than 2,000 career points in Quam and the 1,000-plus points Bleess finished her career with.

Five-foot-8 freshman Riley Dummer had 10 points in the section title game and 5-foot-11 junior Tess Hokanson was our Sviggum Insurance Agency defensive player of the game. Hokanson got better offensively during the season.

Also back will be Maddie McCauley, who got progressively better during the season and saw a lot of playing time.

Our Held Bus Service Knights of the game Friday were the seniors Mara Quam, Savannah Bleess, Morgan Burow and Kasey Dummer. Their leadership and overall competitiveness helped drive the Knights to the section title game and when the season began I don't think there were too many people picking Kenyon-Wanamingo to be playing in that contest.

The Knights finished the season 19-10 and had an overtime win over Class A section winner Goodhue and nearly knocked off Class A top-ranked Mountain Iron-Buhl.

They played Class AAA ranked Kasson-Mantorville tough and also had another good game with Class A state-ranked Hayfield.

Thanks for the memories ladies.

When I'm rocking in a chair, Lord willing, in my retirement years I'll see these pictures and be reminded of how much fun your team was to watch.



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