The Grand Meadow Superlarks girls’ basketball team looked to be headed to defeat Saturday afternoon at the Mayo Civic Arena in Rochester against Fillmore Central, as the second-seeded Falcons led the sixth-seeded Superlarks by as many as 19 points early in the second half. But, the Larks were not going to fade away as they staged a rally the likes of which has rarely been seen as they scraped and clawed and fought their way back to a deficit of only one point at 42-41 with under a minute to go. The stage seemed to be set for an improbable comeback victory, but it was not to be for the Larks as the Falcons were able to hang on for a 43-41 victory.
Fillmore Central took control of the game early in the first half as their stifling 2-3 matchup zone and trapping defense forced 18 Grand Meadow turnovers in the first half and the Falcons led at halftime 25-10. Fillmore Central picked up right where they left off at the start of the second half as they pushed their lead to as large as 19 points, but the Superlarks were finally able to find a bit of offensive rhythm as they started to whittle down the Fillmore Central lead with each possession as the half went on. Grand Meadow cut the lead to 12 at 36-24, and keyed by the three-point shooting of Isabelle Olson and Rylee Groom, the Superlarks came storming back with an 18-5 run of their own to cut the deficit to one at 42-41 on the third 3-pointer of the half by Olson. With the Grand Meadow crowd in a frenzy, the Falcons’ Lauren Mensink was fouled with under a minute to go and went to the free throw line for the double bonus. Both of her foul shots were off the mark, and the Superlarks came up with the rebound and a chance to take the lead. Grand Meadow worked the ball into the front court, and a 3-pointer from the right wing bounced off the rim no good. The Larks corralled the offensive rebound, but a travel was called before they could get another shot off, giving the ball back to Fillmore Central with under :10 second left. The Falcons were able to get the inbounds pass to guard Cassidy Broadwater, who was fouled with just over :04 second left. She missed the first free throw, but drained to second to give Fillmore Central a 43-41 lead. Grand Meadow, who was out of timeouts still had a last chance to tie or take the lead, but the inbounds pass from the baseline in the backcourt to the midcourt stripe was picked off, and the Falcons were able to hold on by their fingernails to win.
Senior Riley Queensland, who signed a letter of intent Friday to play basketball at Gustavus next year tallied ten of her 14 points in the second half to lead the Larks offensivley, while Olson swished three 3-pointers and a two-point field goal for 11 points, all in the second half. Rylee Groom drilled two 3-pointers in the second half for six points for the game, while River Landers added five points, Madison Hindt tallied three points and Lexy Foster scored two points for Grand Meadow, who finishes the season with a record of 18-10.
Fillmore Central moved to 21-8 with the win and they advance to play Blooming Prairie for the Section 1A title Thursday night at 6:00 p.m. at the Mayo Civic Arena in Rochester.