Melrose girls basketball collects moments at Cathedral
The Melrose Area Lady Dutchmen regrouped and won in the Crusader Christmas Classic girls basketball tournament Dec. 28-30, 2022, at Cathedral High School in St. Cloud.
About one minute into the Dec. 28, 2022, game with Concordia Academy, starter and leading scorer Ria Nelson injured her ankle. It was apparent she was not going to be playing.
“That was a little bit like, ‘Oh crap,’” said Paige Gruber, senior forward. “It took us a while to get back into momentum, but a lot of girls stepped up.”
Melrose 55, MLWR 31
The Lady Dutchmen’s final game of the tournament, Dec. 30, 2022, featured its most dominating half of the season. The team simply did not let Moose Lake-Willow River get any easy shots and built to a 27-4 halftime lead. Kaydence Bertram set the pace with steals and deflections and finished with 16 points.
“When she is at the top of our 1-3-1 defense, she is very active, and I think it built her own energy,” said Evan Reller, head coach.
Others picked up on that energy, and the Lady Dutchmen were always at the player with the ball. Avery Birch came off of the bench to score five points and had good defensive plays.
“When she is aggressive and locked in, she is a good player for us,” Reller said.
In the second half, the Lady Dutchmen did not press as much, but were still focused. Paige Gruber took control under the basket, finishing with 20 points, 15 in the second half.
“We were going to hold the lead, see what happens and get other girls in,” Gruber said. “We had more energy coming out of that in previous games. That helped us get the lead and keep it.”
Every player except Nelson played in the game, and nine of them scored. For Reller though, the takeaway was how the team regrouped after Nelson’s injury.
“Hopefully we will get her back soon, but multiple girls played good games for us to make that gap up,” Reller said.
MEL 27 28-55
MLWR 4 27-31
Melrose: Gruber 20 points, Bertram 16, Jazmin Finken 7, Birch 5, Nora Schwieters 3, Ellie Heller 1, Isabelle Jaenicke 1, Jenna Finken 1 and Courtney Revering 1.
Southwest Christian 57, Melrose 21
Melrose never got into an offensive flow in a 57-21 loss to Southwest Christian Dec. 29, 2022, in its second game of the tournament.
Bertram’s eight points led the team. Jenna and Jazmin Finken dropped in 3-point shots.
MEL 11 10-21
SWC 32 25-57
Melrose: Bertram 8 (3S), Jazmin Finken 5, Jenna Finken 3, Gruber 2 (6R), Birch 2 (7R) and Jaenicke 1.
Concordia Academy 38
Concordia Academy took a 21-11 lead into the second half before Melrose regrouped for a 43-38 victory Dec. 28, 2022. The Lady Dutchmen slowed the Concordia Academy offense and chipped away at the lead.
Good defense set up scoring opportunities. Led by Bertram’s seven thefts, Melrose had 18 steals. Gruber’s 10 rebounds denied Concordia Academy’s extra shot attempts.
Gruber, who led the team in scoring, dropped in a 3-point shot with 6:53 left for a 35-34 lead, part of a 13-0 run the Lady Dutchmen used to take the lead. In the run, Bertram, Jazmin Finken and Madelyn Kuechle all put the ball in the basket.
“When a player the caliber of Ria Nelson goes down, it is easy to make excuses, but multiple girls played good games for us to make that gap up,” Reller said.
Concordia had the ball most of the final minute but could not get a clear shot, as Melrose held on for the win.
“We didn’t have Ria playing; we had to be more aggressive on the ball,” Bertram said.
MEL 11 32-43
CA 21 17-38
Melrose: Gruber 13 points (10R, 4S), Bertram 12 (6R, 5A, 7S), Jaenicke 5 (4r), Heller 5, Jazmin Finken 4 (4R), Kuechle 2 (3R, 3S) and Schwieters 2 (4R).