Sleepy Eye is heading to state

MANKATO — Balance is what helped bring Sleepy Eye to the 2A girls’ basketball championship game against St. Clair, and balance is what ended up sending Sleepy Eye back to state for the first time since the 2015-2016 season.

The Indians defeated the Cyclones 59-41 at Bresnan Arena in Mankato on Friday night.

Sleepy Eye was led by Madi Krueger with 14 points and nine rebounds on the junior’s 17th birthday, while Madi Heiderscheidt had 14 points and four assists. Also for Sleepy Eye, Brianna Polesky had 11 points and eight rebounds, while Sarah Ibarra had 8 points, four assists and four steals.

The Indians improved to 26-4 with the win

and will find out their seeding Saturday for the Class A state tournament starting on March 15.

Sleepy Eye coach Ryan Hulke said that his squad was much more than a two-headed monster and that everyone contributed to the team’s success this season, which is why the Indians are heading back to state.

The Indians started out on fire, taking a 13-0 lead on a run that was capped off with a 3 by Hanna Himmelman. Polesky and Ibarra also hit 3s for Sleepy Eye during the run.

The Cyclones stopped the run and the bleeding on a pair of free throws by Megan Devens with 10:07 left in the first half. A 3 by Heiderscheidt put the Indians up 20-6 with less than nine minutes to go in the half, but St. Clair was able to make a run of its own and cut its deficit to 24-22 on a bucket inside by Michaela Karels.

Sleepy Eye regrouped after a timeout and ended the half up 28-22 after a 3 by Ibarra with 16 seconds left.

“In the first half, we did exactly what we needed to do,” Hulke said. “We got good looks, we hit some shots. And defensively, we were phenomenal. Then all of the sudden, Sarah gets two [fouls], and Mya gets two, and Mack [McKenzie Cselovszki] gets two, then they’re sitting on the bench. So that’s where we lose our depth.”

Hulke said that they didn’t make any adjustments for the second half, however, and just kept playing how they played all season.

And it’s hard to argue with the results.

A 9-2 run by the Indians opened the second half. The run featured three buckets inside by Krueger and a 3 that bounced up and in by Polesky.

A basket inside by Heiderscheidt put the Indians ahead 48-28 with less than nine minutes left in the game. The Indians controlled the ball for the remainder of the game and never let the Cyclones get any closer than 16 after the bucket by Heiderscheidt.


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