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East Ridge senior Jamie Swanson fights for position in the Section 3AAAA semifinals against Eastview on Saturday at Hamline University. The Raptors fell 71-40 to the No. 1-ranked Lightning to end the year. (Submitted photo by Scott Briggs)
East Ridge senior Jamie Swanson fights for position in the Section 3AAAA semifinals against Eastview on Saturday at Hamline University. The Raptors fell 71-40 to the No. 1-ranked Lightning to end the year. (Submitted photo by Scott Briggs)

East Ridge girls basketball: Raptors earn first-ever playoff win, but fall to No. 1 Eastview

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sports Cottage Grove, 55016

Cottage Grove Minnesota 7584 80th Street South 55016

In the Section 3AAAA tournament, the East Ridge girls basketball team ran into a buzzsaw in No. 1-ranked Eastview, but not before it made a little history.

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East Ridge, the fourth seed in the section, lost 71-40 to Eastview in the semifinals to end the year. However, before they went out, the Raptors earned their first-ever playoff win with a 66-49 home-court victory over fifth-seeded Rosemount in the opening round.

East Ridge head coach Glen Wurm said he felt the historic win was a result of a successful regular season, which earned a high seed and a home game.

“It was a culmination of a lot of hard work through the course of the season,” said Wurm, who finished his fifth year as coach of the Raptors. “Unfortunately we ran into Eastview who is probably the favorite to win the whole thing this year. We looked it as an opportunity to play another game and give them our best shot. We felt good about that.”

East Ridge (20-8) jumped out to a 31-16 first-half lead on Rosemount then hung on in the 17-point first-round win over the Irish (27-1).

Four players scored in double figures for East Ridge in the victory. Senior Dai Mixson led the way with 23 points, while fellow senior Jamie Swanson scored 16 points. Also, junior guard Amanda Robinson netted 14 points and freshman center Mariah Sexe chipped in 11 points.

“We played really good basketball in all phases — defensively we were solid, we rebounded well, offensively we shared the ball well, attacked them when we had an opportunity and knocked down shots consistently throughout the course of the game,” Wurm said. “It was really a nice win for us.”

In the Section 3AAAA semifinal on Saturday at Hamline University in St. Paul, East Ridge hung in there in the first half against top-seeded Eastview, which finished third in the state last season, however things went haywire in the second half.

Late in the first half, East Ridge found itself down only two points to Eastview (13-14). The Lightning extended its lead to 30-21 at the break. But, in the second half Eastview outscored East Ridge 41-19 to blow the game open.

Mixson scored a team-high 15 points in the loss, while Swanson scored 13 points. Junior guard Madison Guebert led Eastview with a game-high 33 points.

Wurm said turnovers plagued the Raptors in the loss.

“We just simply turned the ball over way too much to have a chance against a team like that,” Wurm said. “I liked our defense. A lot of their points came off of the turnovers. Those were just back-breakers.”

In addition to earning its first-ever playoff win, East Ridge won 20 games for the first time in school history this season. The Raptors were 3-24 in season No. 1 back in 2009, but steadily improved. East Ridge won 12 games last year.

“That’s just tremendous. I couldn’t be happier with the season we had,” Wurm said. “This group has just been fantastic. The seniors stuck with it and continued to work. We had some highs and lows and we took some lumps as a group over the years. To get to 20 wins is pretty incredible. There’s not many teams that did that this year. We’re pretty proud of that.”

East Ridge graduates five seniors from the final roster — Mixson, Swanson, McKenna Karas, Hannah Bloomquist and Kara Curtis.

“I’m so grateful for the seniors and what they were able to accomplish in leading this team this year,” Wurm said. “We’re a pretty young roster. You take those five seniors away and we get pretty young pretty fast. They really raised the bar and took this program another step forward.”

—Patrick Johnson

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