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Goodhue hangs on to edge Byron in a battle of girls powers

Jan. 4—BYRON — Elisabeth Gadient has lots to look forward to.

In one year, the Goodhue basketball guard will be suiting up at the college level, playing for Minnesota State University, Mankato, one of the top teams in the loaded Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

There, the 5-foot-11 standout will join another former star from the Hiawatha Valley League, Lake City graduate Natalie Bremer. They figure to eventually combine for a fantastic backcourt.

But that is looking ahead. And that is something that Gadient prefers not to do. That's because there are too many good things going on right now for the Wildcats senior. The third-year starter is the star of a Goodhue team that is in the midst of sizzling.

"I mean, it's so much fun," Gadient said. "I know I have years of playing left after this, but high school basketball is really fun."

Gadient and her teammates kept up their sizzling ways Thursday night, winning a showdown game with fellow HVL power Byron. They did it just barely, a final 3-point attempt taken by Byron with 2 seconds left bouncing off the back rim.

It left Goodhue a 46-45 winner and having survived a defensive slugfest.

"I thought there'd be more points scored than there were," Goodhue coach Josh Wieme said with an exhausted smile.

The outcome also left the Wildcats with their third straight ultra-impressive win. In order, No. 5 Class 1A-ranked Goodhue has now beaten the No. 1-ranked team in Class 1A (Mountain Iron-Buhl), the No. 4-ranked team in Class 2A (Crosby-Ironton) and now a Byron team that entered the night 7-1.

It moved Goodhue to 9-3, and despite being the rare Class 1A team in the HVL, certainly a team to beat in that ultra-competitive league.

"Our ball movement has not been any better than it is right now," said Gadient, who finished with a hard-earned 15 points against Byron's quick and trapping defense and was part of a successful mission to get the ball to open teammates. Goodhue made just enough key passes and baskets to earn the win, the Wildcats particularly finding center Julia Carlson (eight points) for interior baskets in the final minutes.

"I think we are sharing the ball really well," Gadient said. "It's so much fun when you see other people making shots. Earlier in the year, we weren't quite playing as a team. Now I think we're just playing well with each other and our momentum and people playing off of each other is really working. It's just really good right now."

It's pretty much always been really good for Gadient and her team ever since she cracked the starting lineup as a sophomore. The Wildcats went 25-4 that year, 29-4 and reached the state tournament last season, and are now 9-3 and looking like a favorite to get back to state, this time as it's dipped from Class 2A to 1A.

During all of that time, the angular, smooth and sweet shooting Gadient has been one of southeastern Minnesota's top players. So good that one of the midwest's top Division II women's basketball programs — Minnesota State, Mankato — swooped in and signed her.

For Goodhue, she so often has made the difference. That includes Thursday night when she buried three deep 3-pointers in the second half as the Wildcats overcame a deficit, finding just enough openings against Byron's athletic and tenacious defense.

Gadient spent the entire second half being chased around and often face guarded by Byron defenders.

"Byron has a lot of kids who move their feet really well," Wieme said. "They get low and they brought some physicality, and we don't always do well against that. Plus, they have a lot of length. That gave us some trouble."

But with Gadient still around, the Wildcats know how to get out of trouble. She is that player who cures almost all ills.

"It is very steadying to have her handling the ball against pressure," Wieme said. "And I think it was her willingness to release the ball and make the right pass that was so good, and then have someone else make the next play. I think that shows great growth by her. And obviously she hits shots and they're not easy ones."

It was Byron standout guard Kendra Harvey who provided her team its biggest offensive boost. The junior finished with a game-high 22 points.

Goodhue 46, Byron 45

GOODHUE (46)

Natalie Thomforde 8 P, 1 3-PT; Mackenzie Lodermeier 3 P, 1 3-PT; Avy Agenten 4 P; Kendyl Lodermeier 8 P; Elisabeth Gadient 15 P, 5 3-PT; Julia Carlson 8 P.

BYRON (45)

Alexis Nelson 2 P; Paige Halder 6 P; Kendra Harvey 22 P, 1 3-PT; Kailani Schroeder 2 P; Madison Ohm 11 P; Kayla Stork 2 P.

Halftime: BYR 24, GOOD 22.

Free throws: GOOD 5-10, BYR 6-11.

Three-point goals: GOOD 7, BYR 1.