Girls basketball: Richfield ends Hill-Murray’s state tournament hopes

Richfield 54 – Hill-Murray 35

The Hill-Murray girls basketball season came to a halt March 13 in the quarterfinals of the Minnesota Class AAA Girls Basketball Tournament held at Williams Arena on the campus of the University of Minnesota.

The culprit in the season-ending game was a familiar one –Richfield High School. The two Classic Suburban Conference teams met twice during the 2012-13 regular season, and the Spartans were victorious both times by a combined total of 122-92. Richfield eventually won the conference and was ranked No. 1 in the seedings of the eight teams in Class AAA state tournament.

The seedings appeared correct as the Spartans stopped the Pioneers, 54-35, in the opening game of the tournament.

Afterwards, Hill-Murray head coach Erin Herman stated, “I told the kids we can’t look at this game and feel bad. We have to look at our entire season and judge our success by that.

“Almost no one except us expected that we would be here (in the state tournament). To get here we beat the three top-rated teams in our section. We finished strong, and it is no loss getting beat by the top-rated team in the state.

“I’m proud of our kids and especially our senior leadership. We played with a lot of heart and worked extremely hard. That’s all you can ask of a team. In my book we went out on top,” Herman said.

Richfield coach Scott Stadem said, “We started strong and that’s what we wanted to do. They pulled close at one time. We made some adjustments and went on from there.

“We had a good scouting report, and our kids reacted well to our game plan. We pressed them the entire game, and I feel we may have tired them out a bit in the end,” Stadem said.

“We knew they would be a formidable opponent, because Erin (Herman) always has her team well prepared. We stuck to our plan, and it worked out well for us.”

Turnovers hurt Pioneers

The Spartans were quick, tenacious and unrelenting on defense. In all Richfield forced the Pioneers to turn the ball over 29 times and converted those turnovers into 16 points.

Hill-Murray forced 14 turnovers and converted them into just four points on two buckets.

The game opened with Richfield jumping to a 10-2 lead. The Spartans then slowly built a lead of 21-14 and closed out the first 18 minutes with a 9-3 run that gave them a 30-17 lead at halftime.

In the second half the Spartans continued their aggressive play. They began with a 10-2 spurt and eight of those points came on turnovers.

Down the stretch it didn’t get much better for the Pioneers. Even their free-throw shooting was ineffective as they hit on just 11-of-20 (55 percent), while the Spartans made 12-of-15 (80 percent).

The loss dropped Hill-Murray to 19-11 on the season.

Richfield (28-3) advanced to face Red Wing (22-7) in the semifinal round of the tournament.

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