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NRHEG Panthers wrap up second straight Class AA title

After a first half as cold as the weather outside, Carlie Wagner heated up in the second half with a game high 35 points to lead the New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva Panthers to a 71-61 win over the Kenyon-Wanamingo Knights in the Class AA championship game Saturday afternoon at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.

It was the second straight title for the southern Minnesota school in their fourth trip to state. The two schools played each other on January 9 with NRHEG beating KW 67-60.

The lead would go back and forth early in the game as both teams remained close. Though Carlie Wagner had a cold shooting first half, going 3-14, she helped set up her teammates to pick up the scoring, which included three pointers from her sisters Marnie and Maddie. Carlie Wagner would half four first half assists, six for the game and the Panthers used speed and a strong defense to lead at halftime 37-19.

Carlie Wagner, who will play on The Barn's elevated floor next season for Minnesota. heated up like a car after it was left outside overnight as she hit three three widen the NRHEG lead. But KW did not quit as they took advantage of mounting Panther fouls as they had three players, Jade Schultz (who will also play at Minnesota next season), Paige Overgaard and Marnie Wagner with four fouls. It would also send the Knights to the free throw line in an effort to catch the top seeded Panthers. Megan Quam and Audra Clark would hit key free throws to reduce the margin to to seven. KW would have to foul to prevent NRHEG from taking time off the clock. But Carlie Wagner would close out her high school career by converting four free throws in the final minute to their second Class AA championship.

Carlie Wagner was the only Panther in double figures. She ended her state tournament run with a record career point total of 371, breaking Janet Karvonen of New York Mills' record of 329 from 1977-80. Megan Quam led the Knights with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Siri Sviggum finished with 11 points and Audra Clark added 10 points and 11 rebounds.

In the third place game at Ganglehoff Center on the Concordia University campus in St. Paul, Esko beat Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted 53-44.

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