No. 19 Giants down No. 2 MI-B in OT, 70-66

Mountain Iron-Buhl's Laney Ryan and Mesabi East's Ava Hill battle for the ball during the 2018 season opener in Aurora.

MOUNTAIN IRON — A pair of very good girls basketball teams got together on Tuesday night in Mountain Iron.

A pair of halves wasn’t enough to settle things, so the Rangers and Mesabi East played a four-minute overtime.

When all was said and done, the Giants came away with a 70-66 victory.

“This was a fun game out there tonight,” Mesabi East coach Chris Whiting said. “I am very pround of my girls.”

The teams came out racing in the first half.

Mesabi East grabbed a quick 7-3 lead after Kora Forsline stole the ball and raced in for a layup.

On their next time down court, Ava Hill made a quick bucket to make it a 9-3 Mesabi East lead, forcing Rangers coach Jeff Buffetta to take a time out.

Right out of the time out Miah Gellerstedt hit a 3-point jumper, followed by a Jacie Kvas grabbing a layup to cut the Giants lead to 9-8.

“I like the way we came back quickly out there,” Buffetta said. “We played our game and it worked out.”

The Rangers continued to run the ball down court and before you know it, had a 16-9 lead.

With time running out in the opening half and the Rangers holding a 30-22 lead, Hill hit a deep 3-pointer to cut the lead to 30-25 at the break.

“Like I said before, I saw some good things in that first half,” Buffetta said. “We shot really well from the free throw line.”

The Rangers were 13-16 from the line.

Gellerstedt led Mountain Iron-Buhl with 16 points in the half.

The Giants came out on fire in the second half.

Hill nailed a 3-pointer, followed by a jumper, and then a layup to give Mesabi East a 37-36 lead.

“We really came out playing well in that second half,” Whiting said. “They were able to find the open area’s and took advantage of that and got some buckets.”

The Rangers then started to hit their jumpers and run their offense again.

Brooke Niska hit a 3-pointer with 7:52 to play to give Mountain Iron-Buhl a 49-40 lead.

The Giants were not going to go away.

Hannuksela hit a pair of free throws and a layup to make it a two-point game.

“They weren’t going to give up out there and that was great to see,” Whiting said. “That’s what I told them at half time. Play hard out there.”

Mesabi East grabbed a 63-60 lead with 1:14 to play in regulation time.

Hali Savela tied the game up when she drove to the hoop and made a layup while being fouled.

She made the free throw and the teams went to overtime tied, 63-63.

Hannuksela nailed a 3-pointer to give Mesabi East a 67-64 lead.

The teams struggled to make free throws the rest of the way and the Giants came away with the four point win.

“This was a nice win for us over a very good team,” Whiting said. “We still have work to do, but this was a nice win for us.”

Buffetta also gave the Giants credit.

“They played well tonight,” Buffetta said. “We also have work to do and need to get some of our players healthy.

Hannuksela led the Giants with 25 points, while Hill added 21.

Mesabi East will be back in action on Tuesday, when they travel to Moose Lake.

Gellerstedt led the Rangers with 20 points.

Mountain Iron-Buhl is at Floodwood on Monday.

ME 25 38 7 — 70

MIB 30 33 3 — 66

ME: Aaliyah Sahr 7, Ava Hill 21, Meghan Walker 5, Hannah Hannuksela 25, Kora Forsline 8, Amela Mattfield 4; 3-pointers: Hill 2, Hannuksela 2, Walker 1; Free throws: 22-37; Total fouls: 20; Fouled out: Walker.

MIB: Jacie Kvas 3, Hali Savela 9, Brooke Niska 4, Miah Gellerstedt 20, Sage Ganyo 6, Ava Butler 13, Lauren Maki 8; 3-pointers: Butler 2, Niska 1, Gellerstedt 1; Free throws: 20-28; Total fouls: 24; Fouled out: Niska, Ganyo.

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