BEMIDJI - Kylie Beltz, Emily Lueck and Mattie Lueck are often referred to as the “Big Three” because they usually lead the Pequot Lakes Patriots in virtually every statistical category.
One of the threesome’s characteristics is they don’t care who does what.
In Saturday’s resounding 65-43 win over the East Grand Forks Green Wave in the Section 8-2A championship game at Bemidji State University it was Beltz’s turn to shine. The Patriots’ senior point guard led all scorers with 24 points, frequently piercing EGF’s defense with drives to the rim.
Mattie Lueck added 14 points and 11 rebounds, Emily Lueck collected 11 points and eight assists as Class 2A’s seventh-ranked Patriots advanced to the state quarterfinals Wednesday where they will play top-ranked Braham.
“We take turns being the leading scorer,” Beltz said of the trio. “Today, I guess it was just my day and I was ready to go.”
Beltz finished 10 of 14 from the field, swished all three of her free throws and had six steals.
“We’ve done that all year long,” Patriots coach Jon Dale said of the diversified offensive production. “(Other teams) put so much energy into shutting down one of our 1,000-point scorers that somebody else steps up.
“They’re unselfish. They don’t care who scores, as long as we win.”
The Patriots won their 15th straight game and return to state for the first time since 2005 when they were the 2A runners-up.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Beltz said. “This has been our goal since we started playing together, since kindergarten, and it finally happened. It couldn’t have happened to a better group of girls, I don’t think.
“I’m proud of all the hard work we put in. We earned this moment.”
“They’ve spent so much time in the gym, at AAU, at summer camps, it was their turn,” he said.
Pequot’s defense swarmed the Green Wave, restricting them to 35-percent shooting overall and to just 17 points in the second half, during which the Patriots scored 29.
The Patriots, who shot 47 percent from the floor and made 9 of 10 free throws, bottled up EGF standout point guard Chelsey Frydenlund, a University of North Dakota recruit. She scored just nine points, nine below her season average, making just 3 of 9 shots.
Frydenlund went scoreless the last 13:32 of the first, about half of which she went to the bench after committing her second foul, and for the first seven minutes of the second.
“Kendra (Johnson) was on her but we were going to switch on every pick so all the girls did a nice job on her,” Dale said. “She’s a great player but we’ve played a lot of teams that have had a superstar, so I think we were ready for her.”
In the first half Pequot zipped to an 11-2 lead and expanded it to 17-7 before EGF went on a 9-point burst, closing within 17-16 on two free throws by KayLeigh Kuznia, who scored all 11 of her points in the first.
“We knew they were going to be going strong the entire game,” Beltz said. “We just had to have poise and keep our composure if things weren’t going our way, and we for sure did that. We kept burying them, I guess.”
With the Green Wave focused on Emily Lueck at the perimeter and Mattie Lueck in the paint, Beltz had a huge first half, scoring 15 points on 6 of 9 shooting. Mattie Lueck had six points at the half, Emily Lueck added five as Pequot built a 36-26 edge.
Brooke Greenwood’s basket to open the second half pulled EGF within seven, but the Green Wave couldn’t keep up and trailed by as many as 24.
East Grand Forks 26 17 - 43
Pequot Lakes 36 29 - 65
EAST GRAND FORKS
Chelsey Frydenlund 9, Brooke Greenwood 11, KayLeigh Kuznia 11, Jenna Perreault 8, Aubrie Carlstrom 4. FG 16-46 (35 percent). FT 10-15. Turnovers: 17.
Kylie Beltz 24, Mattie Lueck 14, Kendra Johnson 4, Kayla Wangen 6, Emily Lueck 11, Kayla Miller 4, Vanessa Lane 2. FG 28-60 (47 percent). FT 9-10. Turnovers: 13.
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.