South Prairie-Max plays tough, falls to Garrison
MAX – The South Prairie-Max girls’ basketball team has put together a terrific 2022-23 season as they currently sit in second place of the District 12 standings. After starting off the year with a 2-2 record in their first four games, the Royals (11-3 overall, 5-1 Region 6) have mustered nine wins in a row, establishing themselves as one of the top-tier teams in the region.
In what is perhaps their biggest test of the season thus far, the Royals matched up with the Garrison Troopers (16-1 overall, 6-0 Region 5) on Monday night, who are currently ranked as the No. 7 team in the latest poll. Like the Royals, the Troopers enter play winning four in a row and have consistently beat teams by double digits.
Living up to the hype of the matchup, both teams traded shots early and then settled into that style of play again later. The Troopers utilized a second quarter run that helped them reach a double-digit lead, and they didn’t look back as they beat the Royals by a final of 62-55 on Monday night.
Both teams got off to a fast start, with Karli Klein of the Troopers and Rylee Routledge of the Royals trading baskets to begin the game, as the fans in attendance erupted on every point scored, filling the air with a big game feeling. Routledge would be locked in to begin the battle, as she sunk a 3-pointer and led the Royals with five points in the opening frame.
The Troopers got a handful of second chance points early, as Cara Schlehr and Kaitlyn Zook would help guide the team to an 18-14 lead at the end of the first quarter. The duo combined for 10 of the Troopers point down the stretch, paired with timely defense to help the team take remain in front after one quarter of play.
Moving into the second quarter, the Royals would be plagued by a plethora of turnovers. Skotti Beck, however, would score seven in the frame to keep the Royals within striking distance and not letting the game get out of hand. Thanks to the continued scoring ability of Klein and Zook, the Troopers would take a 29-21 lead into the break.
Both teams would score in bunches out of the break, as Amy Mikkelson got the party started with a 3-pointer to make it a 29-24 game. The defense of the Royals showed signs of improvement in the early goings, as they were getting stops on the other end of the floor.
Mia Gehring of the Troopers would quickly score five points to put try to silence the noise the Royals were making. Routledge would get a three-point play the hard way on the next possession, providing a jolt again for her team. The defense and rebounding ability of Azjiah Trader also gave a boost to the Royals in the quarter, as both teams began trading baskets.
Routledge of the Royals, and Gehring and Zook of the Troopers would go shot for shot down the stretch, with the Troopers holding on to a 44-34 advantage moving into the final quarter of play.
The continued display of a brilliant offensive game would carry over to the fourth quarter for Routledge, as she added five to her total before the halfway mark. The Troopers, however, were always ready to answer with the consistent play of Gehring and Zook, as well as Schlehr and Klein coming alive late.
Early on, Garrison was able to make it a 10-point game and they managed to stay in control the rest of the way, taking down South Prairie-Max by a final of 62-55, despite the Royals constantly battling back and not giving up.
Routledge and Beck scored 20 each to lead the Royals, while Trader added four, Amy Mikkelson scored three, and MaKaya Gerding, Kaimbree Gerding, Abby Mikkelson, and Hattie Heer scored two each.
Zook finished with 21 to lead the way for the Troopers, followed by 18 from Gehring, 10 from Cara Schlehr, seven from Klein, and six from Emily Schlehr.
Rounding out a huge week for the Royals, they will face TGU on Thursday at 7:15 before taking on No. 4 Central McLean on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Thursday’s contest will be played at South Prairie and Friday’s contest will be played at Max.