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Somerset girls basketball battles Durand in final MBC game

If the Durand girls basketball team was expecting Somerset to be an easy opponent in their final Middle Border Conference game last Thursday, the Panthers were in for a big surprise.

The Spartan girls put up an impressive battle in the game. Durand wasn't able to pull away until the fourth quarter, winning 52-36.

Somerset's girls ended the regular season with a 1-20 record, compared to Durand's 16-6 mark.

The Spartans were scheduled to begin WIAA Division 3 tournament action at St. Croix Falls on Tuesday. Somerset was seeded 11th in the sectional tournament bracket. St. Croix Falls, despite owning a 19-3 record, received the sixth seed. The winner of Tuesday's game will play again on Friday, playing at Hayward, the third seed.

The Spartans go into the playoffs on a positive note. Competing with Durand, which nearly earned a share of the Middle Border Conference title, was solid evidence of the Spartans' improvement this season.

Somerset trailed 12-11 after the first quarter on Thursday and they were still within striking distance at halftime, trailing 27-21.

"Against the better teams in the conference, we've played them pretty tight," said Somerset coach Kendrick Livers.

The Spartans have spent a great deal of time this season learning how to break the press and it paid off against Durand. Durand's press caused no problems for the Spartans. The Spartans ran the floor well and were able to create scoring chances in transition.

The effort was led by senior guard Sadie Gilbertson, who paced the Spartans with 12 points. Freshman Baily Paulus was another key contributor, scoring nine points, including sinking a pair of three-pointers.

The difference in the game ended up being Durand senior center Lexi Harmon. The Spartans couldn't find a way to stop the reigning MBC Most Valuable Player, who scored 21 points in the game.