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Defense powers No. 2 Rustlers over No. 7 Eagles

HURON--The quest for a second straight state title got off to a smooth start for the Ethan girls basketball team. The No. 2 Rustlers powered past No. 7 Irene-Wakonda 51-34 in the first round of the Class B state girls basketball tournament on Thu...

Ethan's Karly Gustafson, left, goes up for a shot as Irene-Wakonda's Andrea Skoklowski, right, defends her during a first round Class B state girls basketball tournament game on Thursday at the Huron Arena in Huron. (Eric Mayer/Republic)
Ethan's Karly Gustafson, left, goes up for a shot as Irene-Wakonda's Andrea Skoklowski, right, defends her during a first round Class B state girls basketball tournament game on Thursday at the Huron Arena in Huron. (Eric Mayer/Republic)

HURON-The quest for a second straight state title got off to a smooth start for the Ethan girls basketball team.

The No. 2 Rustlers powered past No. 7 Irene-Wakonda 51-34 in the first round of the Class B state girls basketball tournament on Thursday at Huron Arena in Huron.

Ethan (20-4) outscored the Eagles 35-19 in second half to cruise into the semifinals, where the Rustlers will face No. 6 Sanborn Central/Woonsocket at 7:45 p.m. in Huron.

"In the second half, our poise was the big difference," Ethan head coach Tom Young said. "We were more aggressive in the second half. You have to credit Irene-Wakonda for playing really good defense in the first half."

Irene-Wakonda (17-7) held an early 7-5 advantage after one quarter, only to see the Rustlers go on a 11-2 run to take a 16-9 lead with five minutes left in the second quarter. The Eagles were able to rally and close the half on a 6-0 run, making the score 16-15 in favor of Ethan at the break.

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Once the second half began, Ethan's defense stiffened and proved to be too much for Irene-Wakonda to handle.

"They just wore us down more than anything," Irene-Wakonda head coach Tod Bak said. "When every pass is contested, every shot is contested, every rebound is contested, it just wears you down over time."

The Rustler defense forced 16 turnovers and held the Eagles to 37 percent shooting from the field (13-of-35).

"We knew we needed to have better defense in the second half," said Ethan junior Rachel Hawkins, who had eight points and four assists. "We make sure we get our hands out, and we're always talking on defense."

Offensively, Karly Gustafson powered the Ethan attack with a game-high 18 points, while Elli Hohn added eight points and Kacey Bartscher chipped in two 3-pointers for six points. The Rustlers went 19-of-38 from the field for 50 percent, 4-of-10 from behind the arc for 40 percent and 9-of-19 from the line for 47 percent. Gustafson added six rebounds along with Hohn and each team finished with 22 rebounds.

"Karly has been playing really well for us," Young said. "She was aggressive and that's what I want to see out of her. She just keeps improving."

Irene-Wakonda was led by Erin Hansen, who finished with nine points, while Taylor Lee added eight points and Andrea Sokolowski chipped in six points and four rebounds.

"They have such and inside game, and such of an outside game," Bak said. "They are tough to defend."

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The Eagles will face No. 3 Wall in the consolation bracket at 1:45 p.m. today.

Heading into today's area showdown between Ethan and Sanborn Central/Woonsocket, Young said his team needs to continue doing what it does best.

"We have stop the other team from scoring," Young said. "Myah is the best player in the state in any class. They're a very good team."

IW 7 15 23 34

E 5 16 31 51

Irene-Wakonda (17-7)

Adrianna McDonald 0-0 0-0 0, Andrea Sokolowski 1-6 4-4 6, Alicia Geuther 0-0 0-0 0, Taylor Lee 4-8 0-0 8, Gabby Hutchison 0-0 0-0 0, Shannon Sokolowski 2-5 0-0 4, Madison Mohr 1-3 0-0 2, Erin Hansen 4-7 0-2 9, Maria VanDriel 0-0 0-0 0, Ashley Emmick 0-1 2-2 2, Caitlin Hinseth 1-5 0-0 3, Abbey Emmick 0-0 0-0 0, Katrina Hauger 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-35 6-8 34

Ethan (20-4)

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Jessica Bartscher 0-0 0-0 0, Jessica Endres 0-0 0-0 0, Maddie Miiller 0-0 0-0 0, Mollie Miiller 0-0 0-0 0, Rachel Hawkins 2-7 3-5 8, Janae Gustafson 1-2 0-0 3, Callie Hohn 1-1 0-0 2, Karly Gustafson 6-11 6-14 18, Ellie Hohn 4-6 0-0 8, Kacey Bartscher 2-7 0-0 6, Amanda Miiller 2-3 0-0 4, Rhena Hohn 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 19-38 9-19 51

3-point goals: Irene-Wakonda 2-10 (Lee 0-1, S. Sokolowski 0-1, Mohr 0-1, Hansen 1-2, Emmick 0-1, Hinseth 1-4), Ethan 4-10 (Hawkins 1-2, Gustafson 1-1, Gustafson 0-1, Bartscher 2-6). Rebounds: Irene-Wakonda 22 (A. Sokolowski 4), Ethan 22 (Gustafson 6, Hohn 6). Fouls Irene-Wakonda 17, Ethan 11. Fouled out: A. Sokolowski, Hinseth. Technical: none. Assists: Irene-Wakonda 8 (Lee 3), Ethan 11 (Hawkins 4). Steals: Irene-Wakonda 5 (Hinseth 4), Ethan 9 (Hawkins 2, Hohn 2, Bartscher 2). Blocked shots: Irene-Wakonda 0, Ethan 0. Turnovers: Irene-Wakonda 16, Ethan 9.

Ethan's Rachel Hawkins, right, drives to the basket as Irene-Wakonda's Taylor Lee, left, tries to defend her during a first round Class B state girls basketball tournament game on Thursday at the Huron Arena in Huron. (Eric Mayer/Republic)
Ethan's Rachel Hawkins, right, drives to the basket as Irene-Wakonda's Taylor Lee, left, tries to defend her during a first round Class B state girls basketball tournament game on Thursday at the Huron Arena in Huron. (Eric Mayer/Republic)

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