BROOKINGS -- The Pierre Lady Governors served notice to the rest of the state Thursday afternoon: Stopping Steph Paluch won't be enough to defeat us.
With ESD foe Huron faceguarding Paluch the entire game, Pierre center Katie Lingle had perhaps the best game of her career, scoring 19 points and ripping down 19 rebounds as the Lady Govs cruised past the Tigers, 53-30, at Frost Arena.
When asked about her center's performance after the game, Pierre coach Lisa Kannegieter clapped her hands and said, "She's back!"
Paluch, who scored 30 points or more in four of Pierre's last six games and averaged 20 per game for the season, was held to just six points in the game. After forcing up a few shots early, Paluch adjusted to Huron's defense and worked to move the ball around.
"Steph did a good job of recognizing what they were doing and correcting and working to get her teammates some good looks," Kannegieter said.
The game plan might have worked better for the Tigers had Pierre not played excellent defense. The Lady Govs found the proper spacing in their sagging man-to-man defense, not allowing the 3-point happy Tigers any easy looks. After Huron put up 11 points in the first quarter, Pierre held them to just two points in the second quarter and five points in the third to put the game out of reach. Pierre allowed Huron just two field goals in the two quarters while scoring 24 points themselves to pull away.
For the game, Huron shot just 24 percent. The Lady Govs finished at 42 percent.
"Our girls did a great job of finding that happy medium, that place on the perimeter where you're guarding the three but they can't drive on you, either. We really didn't give them much," Kannegieter said.
Lingle was a force on both ends of the Frost Arena court, blocking two shots and altering several others and rebounding tenaciously.
"Katie put it into her head that every ball that went up on the glass was hers," Kannegieter said. "That's the best game she has played for us."
Pierre's other post presence, Tristan Rogers, also played a superb game, scoring 10 points and adding two assists to a strong performance on the defensive end.
"That's the best game Tristan has played defensively," Kannegieter said. "She moved her feet and just played fantastically. If she can play like that, it makes it very tough to beat us."
Alexa Berg added 11 points for the Lady Govs, to go along with six rebounds and four assists.
Lacey Stahl led the Tigers with eight points on the game. Huron, now 10-14 on the season, moves to the consolation bracket tomorrow afternoon at 1 p.m.
The other two quarterfinals pit second-seeded Sioux Falls Washington against No.7 Aberdeen at 7 p.m. and third-seeded Brandon Valley at 8:45 p.m.
With the win, the Lady Govs move to tomorrow night's semifinal game at 7 p.m. They will take on the winner of the other afternoon game pitting Sioux Falls Roosevelt against Watertown. Pierre split a pair of games with the Arrows this season and has not yet played the RoughRiders.
The Pierre girls were planning to watch the Watertown-Roosevelt game to find out who they play tomorrow.
"We'll just kind of ride the tide a little bit," Kannegieter said. "We'll see who we have to play and go from there."