Girls gain 2AAA finals

The New Prague Trojan girls basketball team was hitting on all cylinders as they dispatched No. 4 seed Willmar 66-41 at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter Saturday, March 2.

New Prague, the No. 1 seed, has a 21-6 record. They will face the No. 2 seed Mankato East (23-4) at 7 p.m. Thursday at Gustavus in the Section 2AAA championship game.

The winner will play Wednesday, March 13, in the State Class AAA tournament at Williams Arena at the University of Minnesota. Pairings for the tournament will be announced on Saturday.

New Prague and East faced off on November 29, with the Trojans winning 69-56. The Cougars are rated No. 6 in Class AAA, while the Trojans are No. 7.

Trojans 66, Cardinals 41 New Prague and Willmar played a fast-paced game and initially the Cardinals kept up with the Trojans, but eventually the Trojan defense wore on the Cardinals. New Prague had 20 steals and forced 32 turnovers, leading to many fast break layups. The Trojans Steph Hanson had six steals and Maizie Deihl and Jess Allar had five each. Lexi Ruehling had eight rebounds and Annie Dittberner had five assists.

Deihl, an eighth grader, led the Trojans with 19 points.

“The other teams see an eight grader on the roster and don’t expect much, but she plays way beyond what an eighth grader does,” coach Ron Gunderson said.

Dittberner had 17 points and played a key roll in the Trojans initial run, hitting a pair of three-pointers on consecutive possessions.

“That was critical. Another team gets close, and then you have someone who hits the threes and it demoralizes them,” Gunderson noted.

Ella Grote had 10 points for New Prague and also played great defense.

“She’s such a scrapper, one of our hardest workers on the rebounding.”

Also scoring for the Trojans were Lexi Ruehling (8), Allar (5), Hanson (4), Rachel Haecherl (2), and Korey Wilson (1).