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Maple Grove Advances to State Consolation Championship on Mlinar Miracle

Mar 15, 2018 06:42PM ● Published by Doug Erlien

March madness produces its share of magical moments. Less than 24 hours removed from their stunning state quarterfinal loss, the Maple Grove Crimson girls basketball team traveled to Concordia University in St. Paul for the 10 a.m. March 15 consolation game against Prior Lake and flipped the script with a thrilling 61-58 come from behind victory on a buzzer beater three from senior Autumn Mlinar. (Editor's note: video of the play below)

“He’s drawing up this play and I’m supposed to come off a double pick and shoot it” Mlinar said about the play call in the timeout. “Honestly, I didn’t think it was going to work - but I got off the pick and just threw it up and kind of looked at the rim, and it went in.”

It was a stark contrast for the Crimson who lost their quarterfinal game in overtime on a foul call with .3 seconds remaining.

“I’m proud of our kids and the way they battled,” Head Coach Mark Cook said. “They had several opportunities to quit, but they never do. They’ve done that all year.”

With the dramatic ending as the backdrop, the game lived up to the billing with 10 ties and 16 lead changes. Both teams made runs in the first half, neither team able to extend the lead by more than four points. The Crimson were able to take advantage of transition baskets while Mckenna Hofschild knifed her way through the Maple Grove defense, scoring 15 first half points to lead all scorers and giving the Lakers a 35-33 lead at halftime.

In the second half, the Crimson stepped up their defense and held the Lakers to just 23 points. Maple Grove trailed by four with five minutes left in the game before the Crimson went on a 5-0 run to tie the game with 2:37 on a pair of Jordyn Lamker free-throws. The game would be tied at 58 with a single second left on the clock. Cook drawing up what turned out to be a memorable moment. 

“We’re battling,” Mlinar said. “I get drawn up for the play and I’m like ‘I got to do this for the team’ and I made - it’s the best feeling in the world.”

Senior Katrina Theis, one of three Crimson players who finished with 12 points, fell awkwardly late in the game injuring her left ankle and did not return to the game. Lamker and Mlinar also finished with a team high 12. Hofschild led all scorers with 30 points before fouling out on an offensive foul with two minutes left in the game.

The Crimson advance to the Consolation Championship Friday, March 16 at 6 p.m. at Concordia University in St. Paul.

Maple Grove 61 -  Prior Lake 58
Maple Grove: Mlinar 12, Ali Hinze 1, Schulte 10, Tyler 9, Theis 12, Moline 4, Lamker 12, Paige Hinze 1

Prior Lake: Hofschild 30, Brostrom 7, Trachsel 3, Pitsch 6, Schnackenberg 1, Kulstad 7, Wiskow 4,

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