Carlie Wagner considers New York Mills legend Janet Karvonen "a basketball god." The New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva phenom was all smiles as she walked off the Williams Arena floor Friday after shattering Karvonen's career state tournament scoring mark.
Wagner scored 41 points, leading the No. 1-ranked Panthers past pesky Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted 87-58 in the semifinals of the Class 2A girls' basketball state tournament.
The defending state champion Panthers (30-0) will meet Kenyon-Wanamingo (31-1) in today's championship at 2 p.m. They beat the Knights 67-60 in early January.
"I prefer what we accomplish as a team over any record," said Wagner, who scored 53 points in the quarterfinals to break her own single-game state tournament record. "There is no breaking the bond we have as a team. We're family."
The output gave Wagner 335 career points over a three-year period in state tournament play. Karvonen netted 329 points in four state tournament appearances from 1977-80.
The Gophers recruit bypassed that total in four fewer state tournament games by averaging 41.9 points.
Wagner surpassed Karvonen's record with a layup with 6 minutes, 51 seconds left. She exited with 3:18 to play, and the Panthers holding a comfortable 26-point lead en route to their 60th consecutive victory.
Wagner scored 25 points following intermission after being limited to 16 in the opening half.
"We did a great job on her," Lakers coach Jason Kuehn said. "Carlie made some tough shots, and when she gets in the open court she is really good."
Wagner also went 17-for-19 from the free-throw line. It was also a night when she got plenty of help from her freshmen twin sisters, Maddie and Marnie. The younger siblings combined for 25 points, Maddie with 13, Marnie with 12.
"It's nice to watch your younger siblings blossom right before your eyes," Wagner said. "They made some really big shots."
The Wagners accounted for 34 of the Panthers' 40 first-half points. Marnie and Maddie had 10 and eight, respectively. The Panthers were plagued by foul trouble throughout the first half — five players had three at the intermission.
"We want our kids to be intense and aggressive," Panthers coach John Schultz said. "It's not our intention to foul."
Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted (28-3) was led by senior guard Abby Miller's 27 points.
The Lakers lost senior guard Mackenzie Uter, the team's second-leading scorer, to a knee injury with 7:01 left in the first half. They were trailing by six points at that time.
"It's tough when you lose a leader like Mackenzie," Kuehn said. "That's no excuse. They're a very good team with a great player."
Looking for revenge
Kenyon-Wanamingo 60, Esko 36: The No. 2-ranked Knights only have one blemish on the season. It came at the hands of NRHEG. They weren't bound to let the opportunity to avenge that setback escape.
"We came out determined. We wanted another opportunity to play them," Knights senior forward Siri Sviggum said. "We didn't play our best against them the last time."
The Knights dominated overmatched Esko (26-6) from the outset, building a 32-14 lead at halftime. The Eskomos were 4-for-19 from the floor in the opening half.
Sviggum led a balanced Knights attack with 18 points. Junior forward Megan Quam and freshman guard Mara Quam added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
"We're so versatile," Sviggum said. "Everybody contributes, scoring, passing or rebounding. We're a solid team."