Area teams battle in playoff basketball
Girls’ state tournament results
The Minnesota girls’ state basketball tournament got underway last week with some area teams participating at the highest levels.
The Alexandria girls’ team followed up their Central Lakes Conference title with a run through Section 8AAA play, making it to the state tournament. In opening round play the Cardinals knocked off Grand Rapids by a narrow 46-44 final score. In semifinal play Alexandria fell to Orono, 50-34. The Cardinals played Holy Angels for the third-place game and lost by a 74-66 score, finishing in fourth place in Class AAA.
Two familiar teams qualified for the state tournament. WCC powerhouse Sauk Centre qualified for state from Section 6AA and New London-Spicer won Section 3AA, the section that Minnewaska plays in.
New London-Spicer entered the tournament as the #4 seed and played #5 seed Esko in the first round. The Wildcats prevailed, 48-43, advancing to the semifinals. The undefeated Roseau Rams awaited the Wildcats. NL-S fell behind right from the start as Roseau jumped out to a 7-0 lead. NL-S scratched and clawed their way back into the game and only trailed by two points at halftime. The Rams used a 25-4 second-half run to salt away the Wildcats, winning 79-57. The loss put NL-S in the third-place game against Watertown-Mayer.
Sauk Centre opened the state tournament with a 74-65 win over Minnehaha Academy. The Mainstreeters received the #2 seed in the tournament. In the semifinals Sauk Centre pulled away in the second half for a 58-41 win over #3 seed Watertown-Mayer. The win put the Mainstreeters into the championship game against #1 seed Roseau. The Rams were undefeated and ranked #1 all season. The Mainstreeters were #2 most of the season and had just one loss, in their second game of the year. The championship battle would pit the Mainstreeters and their 30-game winning streak against the 31-0 Rams.
Roseau kept their undefeated season intact with a 75-64 win over Sauk Centre. The Mainstreeters started the game well and led by as many as 10 points early in the first half. The Roseau team played relentlessly and by halftime, had taken a 10-point lead of their own. Sauk Centre battled throughout the second half and at one time, whittled the lead to six points, but Roseau could score points quickly and in bunches and would build the lead back to double digits. The Mainstreeters played hard till the end, but Roseau prevailed to become just the third undefeated team since the four class era began in 1997. The second-place finish was the third runner-up for Sauk Centre. The Mainstreeters had previously lost the title game in 2012 and 2015.
Boys’ section playoff results
In boys’ section playoff action, the run for the Morris Tigers came to an end in the Section 3AA championship game. The Tigers, winners of the North subsection, played South subsection’s top team, Jackson County Central. The Huskies prevailed over Morris, 80-71, to advance to the state tournament. JCC will play in the first round of the state tournament on Wednesday at Target Center.
Section 6AA had their championship game on Friday night at Hallenbeck Hall on the campus of St. Cloud State University. Undefeated Melrose took on the St. Cloud Cathedral Crusaders. It would be the third meeting of the year between the two teams. West Central Conference champion Melrose had won both previous meetings. But as is often the case, it’s difficult to defeat a quality opponent three times in one season. Both teams played well, shooting over 50 percent for the game. But the Crusaders were able to force a few more turnovers and that made the difference in the hard-fought battle, resulting in a 74-67 victory for Cathedral and a berth in the state tournament.