Lakeville North Faces Unbeaten Hopkins in State Opener
The Lakeville North Panthers executed their game plan to perfection in their 37-35 Section title victory over the Farmington Tigers Friday night. Panthers Head Coach Shelly Clemons told KDHL following the win it was the only way they were going to defeat the talented Tigers team. Slow the game down, limit Farmington's possessions, keep the game close and steal it at the end.
That's exactly what happened. 5'10 junior Panthers guard Lauren Jensen had 19 points in the game. In a game with limited possessions all shots were huge. During the regular season the South Suburban Conference opponents played twice. Farmington won those games by 14 on December 11 and most recently 20 points on February 21. The Tigers won their first ever conference title and were the heavy favorites to head to state. A lot of firepower will be back next year. They had three seniors on this year's team and just one of them started.
It's one thing to implement a game plan. It's entirely another to execute it to perfection. Even by limiting Farmington's possessions Lakeville North still had to defend well. The Tigers had a definite height advantage inside. Posts 6'0 senior Kaitlin Winston and 6'4 sophomore Sophie Hart had limited touches in the offense but numerous offensive rebounds. They simply could not make many put back baskets.
The Tigers were led in scoring by junior, 5'7 Molly Mogenson with 10 points. She made a basket that would have won the contest at the very end of the game. It was waved off by officials in what appeared to be the correct call.
At the half the score was 15-14 with Lakeville North on top. In the second half Farmington did press some which got the pace up a bit and they appeared to be poised to take control with a 6 point lead with about 8 minutes to go. The Panthers chipped away and with 54 seconds left the game was tied at 35. Lakeville North worked the clock all the way down before Jensen hit an incredible bank shot with around 2 seconds to go. Farmington immediately called for a time out.
There were 3 tenths of a second showing on the clock. Officials got together and decided to have the clock set to 9 tenths of a second. The Tigers had to inbound the ball from about 3 quarters of the court away. Mogenson caught the pass between half court and the farthest three point line on the floor, took one dribble and let it fly. The ball did appear to be in her hand when the buzzer went off and the ball did go in the basket.
The Minnesota State High School Basketball Coaches Association needs to request the MSHSL adopt the college rule of stopping the clock after a made basket in the final minute of the game or any overtime. Or maybe the request needs to be made to the National Federation of State High School Associations.
The officials Friday night did an excellent job of handling the situation but you can see where a tenth of a second or two can make a huge difference. In high school the clock keeps going even after every made basket. I know in those situations officials keep an eye on the clock but it has to be very difficult to make the exact determination of how much time is left. There is a lot going on.
Adopting either the college or NBA rule would make a difficult situation easier for the officials. It would clean up what can be a very messy situation at the end of a thrilling game.
The Tigers finished their season 24-5. Lakeville North is 18-11.
Lakeville North will have to execute a similar game plan Wednesday when they open the Class 4A State Tournament at 10:00 a.m. against undefeated and top seed Hopkins (29-0).