Girls basketball: Pioneers upend feisty Packers

The South St. Paul Packers girls basketball forces headed to Hill-Murray Jan. 31 for a Classic Suburban Conference contest.

The Packers fought hard to the very end, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a determined Hill-Murray offense and a more stubborn defense.

The final result was a 55-32 CSC victory with Hill-Murray on the top side of the score.

The Packers scored the first point of the game on a free throw. They never regained the lead as Hill-Murray went on a 12-0 run to gain an edge they never relinquished.

The feisty Packers also played a strong defense, gaining a couple of buckets on steals and staying with the Pioneers to the first intermission.

In the opening stages of the second half, the Packers traded baskets. Then Hill-Murray began scoring in spurts.

At 26-21, the Pioneers went on a 15-4 splurge and moved their advantage to 41-25.

From that point, the Pioneers never looked back. They scored the final 8 points of the contest and won going away by 23 at 55-32.

“It’s hard coming here to Hill-Murray. They have a long tradition of being a strong girls basketball team,” South St. Paul head coach Kristin Johnson said of the Packers’ effort. “But we competed well, especially in the first half. We are getting better. I felt good about the fact that we fought hard and didn’t let up through the whole game.”

Leading the Packers in double figures were Tori Poole with 15 and Lexi Swanson with 12. Following in the losing effort were Brooke Fisher with 2, Hannah Gustafson with 2 and Elise Barnes with 1.

Gaining a game-high 22 points for Hill-Murray was Lindsey Malecha. Also in double figures was Olivia Graskewicz with 16. Adding to the winning point total were Ellie Schwartz with 6, Sami Schneider with 4, Sarah Langer with 3 and Nicole Thompson and McKenzie Lindahl with 2 apiece.

Next up, South St. Paul will be at home Feb. 7 against Sibley. They play at Tartan Feb. 10 and return home to face non-conference opponent St. Croix Preparatory School Feb. 11.

Hill-Murray will visit Tartan Feb. 5 for a regularly scheduled game. They stay on the road to face Mahtomedi Feb. 7. The Pioneers return home to meet North Feb. 14.

All games are 7 p.m. scheduled starts.

Wally Wakefield can be reached at

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