FOREST LAKE — After knocking down some shots and limiting itself to just three turnovers in the first half, Stillwater was unable to keep up that pace in either department while falling to Forest Lake 57-50 in Tuesday’s Suburban East Conference girls’ basketball game..
The Ponies (2-15 SEC, 6-19) jumped out to a 30-24 halftime lead, but were outscored 33-20 in the second half. Forest Lake post player Bailey Norby bounced back from some first-half foul trouble to rack up a game-high 24 points. Anna Eckert added 13 for the Rangers (11-6, 19-6).
“Norby is averaging 21 points a game and they’re a different team without her,” Stillwater coach Gerard Coury said. “If we could just find a way to score, we would have been OK (in the second half), but we just missed shots and had some bad possessions.”
The Ponies were trailing by just six in the final minutes, but also failed to convert on some free throw opportunities which allowed Forest Lake to remain in front.
Despite being slightly undersized in the post, Haley Balzart delivered 16 points to lead the Ponies and Annie Lauber added 11 in just her second game back from an injury that sidelined her for a few weeks. Paige Becker also chipped in with 10 points.
“Haley was very efficient,” Coury said. “She is the best offensive rebounder in our conference, hands down. She gives us extra possessions and she is going against girls who are two to three inches taller, but they don’t have her heart and intensity. She was good (on Tuesday) and she’s been really good for us for two months.”
Lauber hit two 3-pointers in the first half to help the Ponies build the lead.
“It was good to have Annie back because she plays so hard all the time,” Coury said. “There is never a question of effort with Annie and that’s so important for us to have her on-the-ball defense and the way she’s pressuring people and can make shots for us.”
l Seedings for the Section 4AAAA tournament have been announced and Stillwater received the No. 6 seed, which results in a trip to third-seeded White Bear Lake for the quarterfinals on Feb. 27. The Bears defeated Stillwater 52-26 and 65-38 in conference play earlier this season. The other quarterfinal match-ups include North St. Paul at St. Paul Central, Mahtomedi at Woodbury and Cretin-Derham Hall at Tartan.
Stillwater 30 20 — 50
Forest Lake 24 33 — 57
Stillwater (pts): Annie Lauber 11, Larissa Colvin 7, Rilee Day 2, Haley Balzart 16, Alexis Wahlstrom 2, Madeline Weidner 2 and Paige Becker 10.
Forest Lake: Angie Frericks 4, Hanna Vidlund 6, Kallie Welk 3, Abby Moeller 4, Sara Jaeb 1, Anna Eckert 13, Bailey Norby 24 and Katelyn Palo 2.