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Upsala goes down swinging

Cardinals nipped at the end in playoff run
The Section 5A playoffs this season were an exciting one for the Upsala Cardinals girls basketball team. Even though the Cards didn’t get as far as they wanted, they capped off an exciting season that saw a tremendous amount of growth and success. 
Prior to the two games this week, the Cardinals took out rival Swanville to advance. Last week they took on Braham and Barnum. 
Upsala 57
Braham 51
Braham opened the game and showed the the Cardinals that they came to play.
Upsala quickly recovered from being down 0-5 early and took control for much of the first half. 
The Cardinals built up a 19-10 lead before Braham really put together a response and brought the game back to within 4 points. But, the Cardinals took it to 24-15. Again, Braham got within 4 points, but the Cardinals went on a nice run that would see them close out the first half leading 28-20. 
Coming out of the break, the Cardinals built on that lead. 
While Braham was able to outscore the Cardinals in the second half, Upsala kept pace on the scoreboard and closed out the game with room to spare. 
Madalin Koetter and Brenna Graves led the Cardinals with 13 points each. Koetter also had five rebounds and Graves had 10. 
Samantha Pilarski brought in 10 points and four rebounds. 
Dakota Soltis had 9 points and a rebound. 
Hannah Luedtke, Molly Leners and Isabel Ripplinger all had 4 points. 
Upsala 42
Barnum 44
With their win over Braham, the Cardinals then went on to face Barnum in the semifinals.
The first half saw a fair amount of battling for control of the game with each team trading the lead several times. 
Upsala was down by one point just after the midway point of the first half and went on a big run that would see them lead by 9 points. The Cardinals allowed a basket but they closed out the first half with a firm 22-15 lead. 
Upsala continued along those lines to begin the second half and even built up their lead some. 
However, Barnum began chipping away at the lead only to tie things up within the final minutes of the game. 
Barnum was able to take the lead, but Upsala responded to get the game back within reach and potentially force an overtime, but a final point kept things just out of reach as the clock ticked down. 
Soltis and Pilarski led with 9 points each. Soltis had two rebounds and Pilarski had three. 
Leners brought in 8 points and five rebounds. 
Graves had 6 points and nine rebounds. 
Koetter and Ripplinger each had 4 points. Ripplinger also had eight rebounds and Koetter had three.
Luedtke had 2 points. 
The 2022-2023 season was still a season to remember for the Cardinals even if the ending was bitter sweet. 
“At the beginning of the year we were struggling to find our groove,” said head coach Sara Bauer. 
“We only brought back two starters and were a young team. After the start of our tough schedule, the girls found their leadership and togetherness and that helped them pull out such an amazing end to the season. I continue to tell these girls how proud of them I was.
“They understood their roles and assignments each game and brought out the best of each other on and off the court.
“Our five seniors were leaders both on and off the court. Each and every one of them showed great effort, attitude, and teamwork to help our team place second in subsections. They will be greatly missed.”
This year’s seniors include Madelin Koetter, Hannah Luedtke, Molly Leners, Paige Gerads, and Natalie Wensmann. 
The Upsala Cardinals ended the season with a 16-13 record overall. They went 10-5 in Section 5A play and were 6-2 in the Prairie Conference. 

Long Prairie Leader

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Long Prairie, MN 56347
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