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Section 3AA South girls hoops semifinals: Windom Area tops JCC

Mar. 1—WORTHINGTON — In the girls basketball Section 3AA south semifinal on Thursday, the Fairmont Cardinals and Windom Area Eagles advanced to the sub-section final. The games were lively, competitive and spirited.

Windom Area 81, JCC 69

Windom Area rode the hot hand on offense in a heated third matchup against conference rival Jackson County Central.

The Eagles have not had it easy this year against JCC, in the two prior matchups this regular season the Huskies handled their business easily with double digit victories, amplified by Windom's poor shooting.

And on Thursday it looked no easier, as Windom got off to a not ideal start, with do-it-all junior guard Hadley Sammons picking up her third personal foul in the first ten minutes of play.

But the Eagles bench was up for the occasion. Anja Nielsen was the hot hand with four three pointers in the first half. Nielsen, who was believed to have suffered a season ending injury at Target Center, is a sophomore and also a top softball pitcher in the area.

She also is very good at hitting a trey from anywhere corner, top or logo.

"We thought her season was over. The fear was that it was her ACL, but turns out she was able to recover and come back ," said Jacob Johnson head coach for Windom Area. "She stepped up with some really key outside shooting. ... and give credit to her teammates (they did) a good job finding her and recognizing the hot hand. That's what I'm proud of, it was Anya tonight it might be Leah (Hauge) next Tuesday night. We have a multitude of different players that can score the basketball."

Nielsen finished with 18 points, all of which came from three point shots.

The leading scorer was none other than Haidyn Sammons for the Eagles, a sophomore and younger sister of Hadley. Haidyn had 23 points, and has a vicious ability to drive to the basket. Hannah Dauer had 20 points with three treys and four field goals. Tristyn Maras had eight points and Hadley Sammons had nine points all in the second half.

The Eagles also played well defensively and were able to maintain their lead from the first half, despite valiant scoring runs by JCC and junior phenom Rylie Cother.

"They have an unbelievable player in Rylie Cother," said Johnson. "I was just really happy with how our girls defended. It was a whole team effort in our two-three zone to get her slowed down. I just couldn't be happier, an awesome win for girls and a great memory."

Cother had 19 points, 15 of which came in the second half. She also ran into foul trouble with four personals and had to spend time on the bench.

Kylee Wenzel had 18 points, Zadi Farmer had 12. freshman Paylin Sether had 10 and sophomore Madelyn Rowe had 10.

The Eagles will play Fairmont for the South Section title.

"Fairmont is super well coached and Sara Junkermeier is a great lady that does a great job with their kids," said Johnson. "We went down to Fairmont and we lost on a buzzer beater. We were ahead by two and (Grace) Pendergast hit a three pointer at the buzzer. I told the girls the next time we play them it's going to be a championship game. We played them in our holiday tournament championship game, and now we'll play them in the sub-section championship game. What an awesome team to be going up against. They have a ton of great players."

Windom 44 81

JCC 29 69

Fairmont 67, Luverne 58

The Luverne Cardinals kept it close at times but were unable to cager top seeded Fairmont in the early Section 3AA semifinal game.

The first half featured back and forth action from the two Cardinal teams. Luverne senior Kira John led all scorers at the break with eight points and her team trailed just 23-20.

Outstanding sophomore guard Brylee Miller led Fairmont in points at the half with seven. She scored 15 points in the game.

A difference for Fairmont in the second half was the emergence of forward Nevaeh Rahm. Rahm scored 14 points in the second half and had 17 points in the game. Ava Terfehr, a Fairmont senior, hit three treys in the second half and had 19 points on the game.

Luverne's leading scorer was John with 20 points. Kieslik Smith had 15 points, 14 of which came in the second half. Taya Johnson had eight points.

Luverne 20 58

Fairmont 23 67