Morgan Hennen and Lydia Sussner (right) celebrate the victory as their teammates rush to join them.

You picked a great time to 'score' Lydia

Remember the old Kenny Rogers song, "You picked a fine time to leave me Lucille?"

Well, here's a new version. "You picked a fine time to score Ly-d-ia!"

Minneota's 5-10 junior post player put on a show Friday night, scoring 34 points with 15 rebounds, three steals and four assists.

It was PRIME TIME at its best.

No, she didn't do it alone — the 82-74 win over Southwest Minnesota Christian of Edgerton to put the Vikings back in the state WAS a total team effort.

But Lydia Sussner could not have picked a better time to have her best game of the season.

"Lydia responded. She was really aggressive and the whole team responded to her," said Coach Chad Johnston.

The Eagles were a team that just "wouldn't go away." As Sussner said, "They were so aggressive."

Even after Minneota took an 11-point lead late in the second half, Southwest Minnesota Christian kept driving the lane to keep the score close.

When it was suggested to the coach the Eagles were cutting through the Vikings and getting to the basket, Coach Johnston said, "I knew they would."

But despite their best effort — there was Lydia Sussner.

When SWMC did miss, there she was, hauling in a rebound.

"This was a big stage to play on," smiled Sussner, who felt her team was a bit slow the first half. "We knew we could beat them with speed and size," she said.

So the "power in the middle" used her advantage, bent her body, bowed low, went high, scrambled across the floor and shot from just about every position. And more likely than not, the shots went in.

Not that all that mattered to Lydia Sussner. "We don't care who scores the points, we only want to win the game," she said.

Which brings the Vikings around to the team that started the season, somewhat tentative, young and needing to find their identity.

And ... TODAY... "We got better," Coach Johnston smiled and exclaimed.

They are 25-4 and the No. 4 seed in the state tournament. They will play at 1 p.m. Thursday at Williams Arena against Menahga.

So what propelled Lydia Sussner to turn in this kind of effort?

"We knew we had to do it," she said. So it was all out, 100 percent or bust.

Sussner said, "It's just the mentality that we want the ball. We knew it wasn't going to be easy. They  (Eagles) didn't quit playing. That's a credit to them."

She reflected on the fact that both Minneota and Tracy-Milroy-Balaton are in the state tournament. "That shows you something about our conference," she said.

Minneota freshman Abby Hennen, who threw in 23 points herself with eight of nine free throw shooting, was thankful for Sussner.

"She really opens it up a lot for us. When we go to her, the awesome way she was playing made it easier for us."

Another recipient of Sussner's play was junior Lizzy Gillingham. Several times Gillingham saw Sussner with the ball, surrounded by Eagles. She'd break to the basket and Sussner spied her and shoveled her the ball. Gillingham responded with 17 points and five rebounds of her own.

Morgan Kockelman added eight points, including three key free throws down the stretch. And her point guard abilities helped Sussner get the ball and lead the way to the state tournament.

Here's the lineup Thursday for the state touranment:

At Williams Arena

1. Lyle/Pacelli (29-10) vs. Heritage Christian Academy (19-10), 11 a.m.

4. Minneota (25-4) vs. Menahga (30-0), 1 p.m.

2. Mt. Iron-Buhl (28-2) vs. Stephen-Argyle Central (27-3), 3 p.m.

3. Sleepy Eye (26-4) vs. Ada-Borup (27-2), 5 p.m.



Lydia scored two of her 34 points.

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