Minneota senior Taylor Reiss reached a big career milestone Thursday at Mariucci Arena, but becoming only the 13th girls basketball player in Minnesota history to score 3,000 points barely registered on the scale of what was important to her.
The fifth-seeded Vikings opened the Class 1A state tournament with a harrowing 69-68 victory over fourth-seeded Browerville. Reiss – who came in with 2,989 points -- had six points at halftime and reached 3,000 with two free throws early in the second half. She finished with 13 points in the game and 3,002 in her career with two games to go.
Actually, she finished the game on the bench after fouling out. But thanks to some hustle and sharpshooting by the rest of the Vikings, they moved on to Friday’s semifinals against Lyle/Austin Pacelli at Williams Arena.
“I believed in my teammates and I knew they could do it, even with me sitting on the bench,” she said.
The 5-foot-10 Reiss (pictured) joins a list of some of the top scorers in history, including Rebekah Dahlman, Carlie Wagner, Tayler Hill, Katie Ohm and Janet Karvonen.
“Obviously we were excited to get to the state tournament and give her that opportunity,” Minneota coach Chad Johnston said. “That’s just a huge milestone. Like I told the team, credit goes to the team because I’m pretty sure that 3,000 feels a heck of a lot better when you got a win. It doesn’t feel so good when you’re one and done.”
Minneota was very nearly one and done Thursday. Browerville led by 11 with 13:53 to go before an 18-1 Vikings run gave them a seven-point lead. Browerville led again with 2:25 remaining but Minneota held on down the stretch and LeAnn Jerzak secured the victory with two free throws with 15 seconds left.
The 5-foot-5 Jerzak, who averages less than four points a game, scored 14 on 5-for-7 shooting.
“She sparked us,” Johnston said of Jerzak. “She controlled the game a little bit, she hit key shots. We always know she’s going to play defense and that’s why she gets out there. Girls come off the bench and spark us at times, and you need those in big games. Especially when people get in foul trouble.”
Reiss – who will play volleyball at South Dakota State -- said the only other time she fouled out of a big game was in last season’s state championship game; in that case she fouled out in the final minute of a 61-53 loss to Win-E-Mac, when the outcome had already been decided.
“I haven’t had to do that a lot,” she said. “But I believed in my teammates and I knew they could do it, even with me sitting on the bench.
“I think we gave a lot of people some scares out there. We let them get a lead on us but we never gave up. That’s one of the things we talked about before the game, never give up and always work as a team. Some key players hit some really key shots when we needed it, even people who came off the bench.”
When the horn sounded, no one was more excited than Reiss. She sprinted off the bench and began hugging her teammates. Not in celebration of 3,000 points, either.
“Not a lot of people can say they scored 3,000 points,” she said. “It’s a great accomplishment but the win was much more important to me.”
Reiss was a varsity player in eighth grade and has been a starter since ninth grade. This is the fifth trip to the state basketball tournament for her and teammates Emily Stienessen and Payton Boerboom.
“She’s meant a lot to us, obviously,” Johnston said of Reiss. “She’s been a big key, core part of this. She’s had some great surrounding players, but she’s a very unselfish player. She’s really matured over the years.
“She wants to win basketball games. She is just so competitive, that stuff is the bonus stuff. She wants to win. Nobody is more excited about what her teammates did at the end of this game than Taylor Reiss.”
--Just like on Wednesday, we had more sumo sightings at Mariucci Arena on Thursday. This time it was four students from Ada-Borup in the stands all pumped up.
--Springfield coach Paul Arnoldi suffered a torn Achilles tendon in his right leg seven weeks ago. Doctors recently cleared him to start putting weight on his leg, but he wears a “boot” and has a scooter on which to rest his leg and move around.
Class 3A semifinals
Marshall 55, Orono 48
Park Center 47, Kasson-Mantorville 37
Class 4A semifinals
Hopkins 64, Shakopee 33
Eastview 48, St. Michael-Albertville 30
Class 1A quarterfinals
Maranatha Christian 65, Stephen-Argyle 50
Minneota 69, Browerville 68
Ada-Borup 71, Springfield 53
Lyle/Austin Pacelli 66, Mountain Iron-Buhl 47
FRIDAY’S GAMES AT WILLIAMS ARENA
Class 1A semifinals
Noon/ Maranatha Christian vs. Minneota
2 p.m./ Ada-Borup vs. Lyle/Austin Pacelli
Class 2A semifinals
6 p.m./ Sauk Centre vs. Minnehaha Academy
8 p.m./ Dover-Eyota vs. Roseau
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 458
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2014-15: 8,229