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Prep Girls Basketball | McDonell 57, Bloomer 54

Watch Now: Prep Girls Basketball: McDonell holds off Bloomer, moves into tie with Osseo-Fairchild atop Western Cloverbelt standings

From the Collection: Stories throughout McDonell girls basketball's return to state series

The McDonell girls basketball team moved into a tie atop the Western Cloverbelt Conference standings on Saturday.

But the Macks had to earn it.

McDonell held off a late charge by Bloomer to score a 57-54 win, pushing the Macks even with Osseo-Fairchild for first place in the league standings.

The Macks (13-2, 8-1) trailed for much of the first half and led by as many as 10 points in the second half before the Blackhawks (6-8, 3-5) closed the deficit to two in the late going. Bloomer had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds but turned the ball over while moving up court for a potential game-tying shot. From there, McDonell was able to inbound the ball and run out the final few seconds.

Lauryn Deetz finished with 12 points for the Macks, and Emily Cooper added 10 points in a balanced scoring effort.

“I think the biggest difference was the second half we just continued to have that (defensive) pressure,” McDonell coach Don Cooper said.

McDonell’s full-court pressure defense was able to force more turnovers in the second half, leading to scoring chances the other way. Senior Sydney Flanagan came off the bench to score six points, with four coming on steals leading to layups. Flanagan’s play was a much-needed boost for the Macks, who lost senior Amber Adams to injury midway through the first half.

“To have Sydney Flanagan step up defensively really helped us,” coach Cooper said.

McDonell’s biggest lead of the night came with 6 minutes, 16 seconds to go at 50-40 following a free throw by Emily Cooper. Bloomer responded with the next nine points to bring the deficit to one with a run that included two 3-pointers by Ciarra Seibel, with the second tightening the Macks lead to 50-49 with 3:03 left.

McDonell extended the lead with a basket from Emma Stelter and free throws by Deetz and Aubrey Dorn to push the lead to 56-61 with 19.8 seconds left. But the Blackhawks wouldn’t go away as Madison Faschingbauer banked in a long 3-point attempt with seven seconds left to quickly cut the deficit to two at 56-54. Cooper made the first of two free throws to extend the lead to three.

The defeat was the third of the week for the Blackhawks by six points or fewer as Bloomer fell in tight contests to Altoona, Fall Creek and McDonell by a combined 11 points.

“We’re so close,” Bloomer coach Nikki Seibel said, “but we’re making some good gains and I think it’s only going to help us for the postseason I think. Just a couple possessions makes a difference on winning and losing those games. We have a lot of those.”

Abby Iverson had an impressive game in defeat for Bloomer, leading all scorers with 23 points as the senior post player was hard for McDonell to handle around the rim.

“She just kind of took it and dominated,” coach Seibel said. “(She) felt confident, and I’m super proud of her and I hope she continues to do that throughout the season because I think she’s a hard matchup and I think our girls can get her the ball where she needs it. I think they’re going to do some good things.”

Iverson scored nine of her points in the first seven minutes of the game to help the Blackhawks race out to a 15-10 lead before the Macks mounted a response to help take a 28-26 lead into halftime. Seibel added nine points on three 3-pointers before fouling out for a Bloomer squad playing its first season in the Western Cloverbelt.

“Thirty six minutes and that’s what I’ve been preaching,” coach Seibel said. “We have a good one half and we’ve got to make sure we have a — we kind of had a half of a good half in the second half — and if we can be more consistent with that … but I’m so proud of my girls. We battled and (McDonell) they’re a good team and they only lost one girl (from last year). They’re senior dominated and they went to state last year and my girls hung with them and I’m super proud of them.”

Marley Hughes scored eight points with Dorn and Abigail Petranovich each chipping in with five points as the Macks won their seventh game in a row and pulled even with the Thunder in the league pecking order with five conference games to go.

McDonell plays at Fall Creek on Tuesday before Osseo-Fairchild comes to town on Friday.

“Everything’s going to be a battle from here on out,” coach Cooper said. “but we’ve just got to stay focused one game at a time. Just take care of each game, and I think we should be fine.”

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