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Wolves rally, move on to semifinals

Ryan Stieg | Marquette Mining Journal Carney-Nadeau’s Haley Ernest, center, puts up a layup as Rudyard’s Laine Grenfell, left, and Chesney Molina defend during an MHSAA Division 4 girls basketball state quarterfinal on Monday at Lakeview Memorial Gymnasium in Negaunee.

NEGAUNEE — The Carney-Nadeau girls answered the bell at crunch time here Monday night as they rallied past the Rudyard Bulldogs 62-52 in a Division 4 state quarterfinal basketball game.

C-N trailed 52-47 midway through the fourth quarter prior to scoring the last 15 points.

The victory sends the Wolves (22-0) to Grand Rapids where they’ll meet Fowler (14-4) in a semifinal contest Wednesday at 10 a.m. The Bulldogs finished 12-6.

“This feels amazing,” said senior guard Taylor Kedsch, who drained six 3-point shots and led the Wolves with 22 points. “I think our team is pretty composed. We know how to fight back.”

Rudyard took its five-point lead on a steal and layup by senior guard Chesney Molina.

C-N trimmed its deficit to 52-49 on a layup by sophomore forward Shae Linder and tied the contest on a 20-foot set shot by Kedsch with two minutes, 47 seconds remaining.

Following a Rudyard time-out, Linder sank another layup to put the Wolves up 54-52 at 2:04

Junior center Tessa Wagner then gave the Wolves a four-point cushion with 1:36 left.

“Shae’s go-ahead layup gave us a lot of momentum,” said C-N coach Ken Linder. “We worked the ball around and got a good shot. That was a tough game. They were physical. They have size and had good guard play. They’re just a real good team.”

The Wolves overcame adversity in this match-up as Wagner picked up her fourth foul with 3:40 left in the third stanza.

C-N led 42-37 at that point, but neither team scored until Brooklyn Besteman brought the Bulldogs within three points on a putback with 60 seconds left in the third.

The Wolves made it 44-39 on an eight-foot set shot by senior guard Haley Ernest.

Brooklynn Besteman sank a triple to bring Rudyard within 44-42.

Molina tied the contest on a 17-foot jumper in the final second of the third frame, then gave the Bulldogs a 47-44 lead on a 20-foot jumper from the left wing to start the fourth.

After the Wolves tied the score at 47, the Bulldogs regained the lead on a 22-foot leaning jumper by Besteman and raised the count to 52-47 on Molina’s layup.

“We told the girls to pull out the ball,” said Rudyard coach Carlos Molina. “We wanted to run the clock down. We called time-out and told them where to be, but we made some mental errors. The team played well. Only, we broke down mentally.”

Wagner, who returned to the floor with 5:43 left to play, finished with 18 points.

“Shae’s layup gave us a lot of momentum, and Tessa coming back into the game was a big factor,” said Kedsch. “When Tessa got her fourth foul, we went to a zone to stop their penetration. Defense plays a key role for us in every game.”

Ernest added 12 points for the Wolves, who committed nine turnovers.

Molina scored 16 points. Besteman collected 15, and Tristin Smith had 13.

“The Besteman girls is a real good player, and they had two guards who could penetrate,” said coach Linder. “I think Taylor’s three, which tied the game (at 52) was a big momentum swing. I was a little worried when Tessa got her fourth foul, but we just tried to value our possessions and buy some time until she got back in.”

Rudyard had plenty of momentum coming into this match-up, ending the regular season with a stunning 54-47 upset victory at St. Ignace and earning the first regional title in the program’s history.

“The last time we had beaten St. Ignace was before 1992, and winning our first regional was huge,” said coach Molina. ‘This is the first time we’ve been to a quarterfinal. This was a big learning experience for us. I’m proud of the girls. They overcame tremendous obstacles this year. We had a lot of first times for everything.”

Rudyard 16 12 16 8 — 52

Carney-Nadeau 20 15 9 18 — 62

Rudyard — Bradley 2, Kopitz 4, Smith 13, Mayer 2, Molina 16, Besteman 15. FT: 9-18; F: 15; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: Besteman 3, Molina 2.

Carney-Nadeau — Ernest 12, Grand 2, Kedsch 22, Wagner 18, Linder 8. FT: 6-13; F: 11; Fouled out: None; 3-point field goals: Kedsch 6.

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