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No. 1 Ethan headed back to state tournament

MADISON--For the third straight year, the Ethan girls basketball team is headed to Class B state tournament. The top-ranked Rustlers overpowered the upstart Oldham-Ramona/Rutland Raiders 68-29 in the Region 4B championship game at the Madison Hig...

MADISON-For the third straight year, the Ethan girls basketball team is headed to Class B state tournament.

The top-ranked Rustlers overpowered the upstart Oldham-Ramona/Rutland Raiders 68-29 in the Region 4B championship game at the Madison High School gym in Madison.

"We didn't want this to be the last game for our seniors, just like the district championship game" Ethan head coach Tom Young said. "It never gets old. I've been blessed to be a part of three of these (region championships) with this group. You couldn't ask for better group of girls, they're just awesome. On and off the floor, they are real humble group and they are a team."

Led by a stifling man-to-man defense and a balanced offensive attack, Ethan wasted no time building a big lead. The Rustlers (22-1) jumped out to an early 13-3 lead midway through the first quarter and kept a double-digit lead for the remained of the contest.

"It's hard to win three region titles and three district titles in a row, but we earned it," Ethan senior Kacey Bartscher said. "We've been holding teams to an average of 25 or 26 points all year and we knew if we kept them close to that we'd be going back to state."

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The Ethan defense stayed tough, holding the Raiders, winners of District 7B, to single digits in all four quarters. Ethan outscored ORR 23-8 in the second quarter to take its first 20-point lead of the contest. The Raiders' Joie Spier drained a half-court shot at the buzzer to make the score 44-16 at halftime and gave ORR fans something to cheer about.

Spier led ORR with 17 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double, but no other Raider scored more than three points in the loss.

"We knew were their best players were and we concentrated on that this week," Young said. "For us, it's always a team effort defense. We got in the passing lanes, got to go coast-to-coast and get some easy baskets."

Ethan forced a running clock in the third quarter with a 30-point lead and led 55-20 heading into the final frame. In the fourth quarter, Ethan built its biggest lead at 40 points halfway through the quarter to book a trip the Huron Arena.

Karly Gustafson led the Rustlers with 25 points, while Ellie Hohn and Rachel Hawkins each chipped in 11 points. Bartscher had eight points and Amanda Miiller finished with six points and team-high five rebounds. Ethan went 31-of-54 from the field (57 percent), 4-of-13 from behind the arc (30 percent) and 2-of-3 from the free-throw line (66 percent) in the win.

ORR made 10 of 31 field goals for 32 percent shooting and the Raiders went 4-of-10 from deep (40 percent), 5-of-6 from the line (83 percent) and committed 19 turnovers.

The Class B girls basketball state tournament will be March 9-11 in Huron.

Ethan 68, Oldham-Ramona/Rutland 29

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Oldham-Ramona/Rutland (13-10): Meghan Handegard 0 2-2 2 Abby Stratton 1 0-0 3 Joie Spier 6 3-4 17 Victoria Malisch 1 0-0 2 Emily Nold 1 0-0 3 Jenessa Shchiernbeck 1 0-0 2 Totals 10 5-6 29.

Ethan (22-1): Rachel Hawkins 5 0-0 11 Janae Gustafson 2 1-2 5 Karly Gustafson 12 1-1 25 Ellie Hohn 5 0-0 11 Kacey Bartscher 3 0-0 8 Patience Nesheim 1 0-0 2 Amanda Miiller 3 0-0 6 Totals 31 2-3 68.

ORR 8 16 20 29

E 21 44 55 68

3-point goals: ORR 4-10 (Spier 2, Stratton, Nold), E 4-13 (Bartscher 2, Hawkins, Hohn); Rebounds: ORR 23 (Spier 10), E 24 (Miiller 5); Assists: ORR 3 (Stratton 2), E 13 (Hohn 5); Fouls: ORR 2, E 7; Turnovers: ORR 19, E 4.

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