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MGSH Girls Basketball Head to State After Thrilling Section 8AAAA Championship Game

Mar 11, 2018 05:29PM ● Published by Doug Erlien

Photo provided by Maple Grove Senior High Girls Basketball

The Maple Grove Senior High Crimson girls basketball team advanced to the state tournament for the first time since 2011 after defeating St. Michael-Albertville 59-56 in overtime in the Section 8AAAA championship game Thursday, March 8.

With a packed gym at Buffalo High School as the backdrop, the Crimson and the Knights took basketball fans on a roller coaster of a ride with emotional ups and downs. The teams traded leads and unlike the first match-up, a 60-47 loss in the STMA Holiday tournament, neither team was able to gain control and extend any lead more than four points. STMA’s Whitney Dold scored 14 of her teams 24 points in the first half, but it was Maple Grove who was able to head to the break with a 25-24 lead.

“I thought the kids really embraced the game plan. We did not shy away from their pressure,” Crimson Head Coach Mark Cook said. “We won the rebounding battle. And I never thought that we lost our composure and there were times we could have. I am so incredibly proud of all the girls.”

The second half played out much the same way with neither team able to seize control. With the Knights leading 48-47 with 1:21 left in the game, freshman Jordyn Lamker hit a huge three pointer from the left wing to give the Crimson the 50-48 lead. The Knights tied the game with 37 seconds left and had an opportunity to win the game, but missed a shot attempt at the buzzer and the game went to overtime.  

Senior Autumn Mlinar became the sixth Crimson player to score 1,000 career points as she made a layup in transition early in the first half. Mlinar finished with 17 in the game and struggled to find success from 3-point range much of the game but in overtime, hit a huge shot to put the Crimson up 53-50. Lamker  finished with 18 points, including four clutch free-throws in overtime.

“She sure as heck doesn't play like a freshman,” Cook said. “A wise coach once told me that ‘freshmen don't know...and they don't know that they don't know.’  I think that applies in this situation. She doesn't know that freshman are not supposed to be that poised. She just handles everything that teams throw at her and rises to every challenge put in front of her. She is one of the most impressive young players I have ever coached.” 

Lamker made her first two overtime free throws that gave Maple Grove a 55-50 lead but the Knights weren’t done. Sophomore Kenzie Kramer nailed a step back three pointer to cut the lead to 55-53. Lamker and sophomore guard Abby Schulte knocked down four free-throws to seal the victory and send the Crimson to state for the first time in seven years.

Maple Grove was seeded fifth in the state tournament and will play Lakeville North at noon on Wednesday, March 14 at Target Center. 

 

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