Abby Rost drives to the basket to score two of her nine points against Houston on Tuesday in Mankato.

Vikings rout Houston in state opener

Advance to semis April 6

It was billed as the battle of the unbeatens. The Minneota Vikings entered the Class A state quarterfinals on Tuesday with a 22-0 record, while the Houston Hurricanes took an 18-0 record into its first-ever state berth.

For two minutes, this looked like it might be the Vikings' toughest challenge of the season. But an almost unheard of 31-0 run quickly dismissed those thoughts. During that run, Houston was held scoreless for 10:28.

With the dust settled, Minneota had routed Houston 67-34 at Mankato East High School to advance to the state semifinals on Tuesday, April 6 against Mountain Iron-Buhl at noon at Target Center.

Abby Hennen drained five 3-pointers and shared game-high honors with teammate Natalee Rolbiecki with 21 points apiece. Hennen also notched 10 rebounds, six steals and four assists, while Rolbiecki added nine rebounds and two steals.

Abby Rost added nine points, 11 rebounds, eight assists and six steals in a solid all-around performance. McKenna Yost and Ireland Stassen scored five points each, Jeren Rost had four points and McKenzie Tolk had two.

Prior to the state tournament game, Hennen and Rolbiecki reflected on what it was like playing with restrictions this year such as a limited schedule and having to wear masks during games.

"It is definitely not the same as other years," Hennen said. "But I am fortunate we are able to play and I am hoping to end my senior basketball season by bringing home a state championship."

The Vikings won the state title two years ago and were favored to repeat as champions again last year before the state tournament was cancelled after the quarterfinals due to COVID-19 restrictions.

"After last year, having another chance to go to the state tournament with my teammates is such an incredible feeling," said Rolbiecki. "It is definitely a feeling that never gets old."

One of Houston's strengths this season was its defense that allowed an average of only 36 points per game. Minneota amassed 43 points in the first half, while holding a 43-15 advantage. The top-ranked Vikings forced 20 Houston turnovers in the first half alone.

With the Hurricanes leading 5-4 with 16:05 remaining in the opening half, the Vikings' ball-hawking led to many fast-break baskets. Rolbiecki had 10 of her 15 first-half points during that 31-0 run that lasted until Houston's Sydney Torgerson scored with 5:37 left in the first half. Seven different Vikings players scored in that lengthy run.

Houston's Emma Geiwitz, who averaged 22 points per game, had more fouls (3) than points (0) in the first half. She finished with a team-high eight points. Sydney Torgerson had seven points.

Minneota 67, Houston 34

HOUSTON (FG, FT, Pts) - Sydney Torgerson 3-9 1-2 7, Becca Rostad 1-8 2-2 5, Olivia Beckman 2-8 0-0 5, Priya Kingsley 1-4 0-0 2, Emma Geiwitz 3-14 1-1 8, Lilly Carr 0-5 0-0 0, Amelia Torgerson 2-4 0-0 4, Bev Hahn 0-0 0-0 0, Ashtin Meyer 1-1 0-0 3, Allison Papenfuss 0-1 0-2 0. Totals 13-54 4-7 34.

MINNEOTA (FG, FT, Pts) - Kenadi Arndt 0-0 0-1 0, Abby Hennen 8-23 0-2 21, Grace Hennen 0-1 0-0 0, Dakodah Hennen 0-0 0-0 0, Kennedi Jurrens 0-1 0-0 0, Morgan Moorse 0-1 0-0 0, Natalee Rolbiecki 8-17 4-7 21, Abby Rost 4-7 0-0 9, Jeren Rost 2-5 0-0 4, Ireland Stassen 2-4 0-0 5, McKenzie Tolk 1-2 0-0 2, McKenna Yost 2-7 0-0 5. Totals 27-68 4-10 67.

Halftime: Minneota 43, Houston 15

3-pointers: Houston 4-27 (Meyer 1, Geiwitz 1, Rostad 1, Beckman 1). Minneota 9-29 (A.Hennen 5, Rolbiecki 1, A.Rost 1, Yost 1, Stassen 1).
Rebounds: Houston 23 (Geiwitz 5, S.Torgerson 5). Minneota 40 (A.Rost 11, A.Hennen 10, Rolbiecki 9, Jurrens 3, J.Rost 2, Stassen 2, G.Hennen 1, Yost 1).

Assists: Houston not available. Minneota 18 (A.Rost 8, A.Hennen 4, J.Rost 3, Yost 2, Tolk 1).

Steals: Houston 7 (Geiwitz 2, S.Torgerson 2). Minneota 19 (A.Hennen 6, A.Rost 6, J.Rost 3, Rolbiecki 2, Stassen 1, Yost 1).

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