Cougars eliminate Cathedral

MORGAN – The Cedar Mountain/Comfrey Cougars went from a turnover machine to a steamrolling juggernaut.

CM/C turned a 22-22 game at halftime into a 70-44 blowout of the New Ulm Cathedral Greyhounds in the first round of the Section 2A, North Subsection girls basketball playoffs Tuesday night.

The Cougars advance to play Minnesota Valley Lutheran at 6 p.m. Friday at Glencoe/Silver Lake High School in Glencoe.

CM/C had its final two games cancelled due to weather and hadn’t played in two weeks, which probably caused some of its rustiness in the first half protecting the ball.

But it also gave the Cougars two weeks to study tape on the Greyhounds, with whom they split their games in the regular season.

“We were probably a little rusty coming out,” Cougars coach Mike Kelly said. “But at halftime, I was as mellow as could be and told the team we weren’t attacking Cathedral’s press. The second half, we definitely attacked the basket and that opened things up for us.”

Great Greyhounds defense in the first half couldn’t make up for shooting deficiencies that became stark when CM/C outscored Cathedral 23-2 in the first six minutes of the second half.

“They couldn’t miss and we couldn’t make one,” Greyhounds coach Mary Dengerud said. “You can’t yell at your players to shoot and you can’t get one shot to their six on the boards.”

Still, the game started optimistically for Cathedral. The Cougars couldn’t keep control of the ball and the Greyhounds took full advantage, scoring their first 10 points on CM/C miscues. Karlee Pfaff scored four in a row, followed by a Paige Pautzke 3-pointer and Cathedral found itself with a 15-7 lead and a Cougars team that couldn’t hit the basket.

CM/C shook off the sluggishness when Allison Madsen hit a 3, followed by a fast-break hoop from Brianna Lund that tied it at 15-15. The score was tied three more times in the half , the final being 22-22 at the break.

That was the last good news for Greyhounds fans.

While Cathedral had done a fairly good job of ball control in the first half while the Cougars committed 14 turnovers, things were switched in the final stanza. Andrea Ochs and Madsen each had two 3-pointers, Lund was good for five points, Emily Ochs was found on one of multiple fast breaks and the Greyhounds gave up 10 points on six turnovers.

Meanwhile, on defense, the Cougars collapsed their defense to prevent penetration and essentially dared Cathedral to beat them with outside shooting, not even going out to defend past the free throw line. The Greyhounds couldn’t hit a shot and weren’t getting offensive rebounds, with a bucket by Haley Weidman on the sixth offensive board giving the Cougars a 61-30 lead with 7:20 left in the game, putting the second half in a nutshell.

After that, CM/C slowed the game down and with the game out of reach at 67-37, both coaches put in their second squads.

Cathedral closes out its season with a 14-10 record, while CM/C improves to 14-10.

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