Langdon Area-Edmore-Munich went 13 of 14 from the free-throw line, Four Winds-Minnewaukan misses nine of its 14 in the loss.
FORT TOTTEN — There’s a football adage that goes games are won in the trenches. The basketball equivalent is that games are won on the free-throw line.
No. 2 Langdon Area-Edmore-Munich made 11 straight second half free throws, including a 3-point play to end the third quarter that essentially knocked No. 7 Four Winds-Minnewaukan out as the Cardinals came away with the 52-46 win Monday night in what may have well been the preview of the Region 4 championship game that is scheduled for Feb. 27.
It was the closet victory by the Cardinals this season outside a 7-point win over No. 8 Carrington back on Jan. 4.
“Four Winds is a very good team, a very aggressive team, good physicality and I had to tell the girls that the most aggressive, physical team usually come out in a positive way in a game,” said Cardinals head coach Rob Scherr. “And I thought in the first half their physicality was definitively more aggressive than us and got us disarray and they shut us down, plain and simple.”
The Cardinals (16-0) were held to just 18 first half points and never led during the first during 16 minutes of the ballgame. They only had four points the first six and half minutes and didn’t score their first basket of the second quarter until a Callie Ronningen field goal with three minutes remaining until halftime. Despite all of that, the Cardinals only trailed 20-18 going into the locker room.
Ronningen, who finished the game with 15 points, gave the Cardinals their first lead of the game with 6:22 remaining in the third quarter but a Myona Dauphinais 3 on the ensuing possession regained the lead for the Indians (14-3) at 23-22. With the game tied, Kaylee Lowery made field goal and was fouled as time expired. She made the untimed free throw that put the Cardinals ahead 32-29 going into the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals never tied or trailed again, eventually building a 10-point fourth quarter lead. Morgan Freije scored a game-high 17 points for the Cardinals.
“That is a good question,” said Sean Gourd when asked about his team struggles from the free-throw line. The Indians went 5-for-14 from the charity stripe, 1 of 6 in the first half. Four consecutive misses came in the second quarter when the Indians led by four. “I tell them everyday that free throws are gonna win or lose us games. We have to take them serious and focus.
“But again, credit to Langdon. They are a very good team. They are very good defensively and they just keep coming after you.”
Mahpiya Jackson scored 14 points and Latasha Bellile had 13 points for the Indians, who suffered their first home loss of the season and ended a seven game winning streak.
Chris Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.