COLLEGEVILLE – Go to as many state tournaments as Sauk Centre has the past three years and you’d think nothing would scare the Mainstreeters.
Not true, Elizabeth Ellens said.
“They definitely put a scare in us,” a jubilant Ellens said Wednesday night.
“They” are the Staples-Motley Cardinals, who lost an eight-point second-half lead as Sauk Centre won its fourth straight North Sub-Section 6-2A championship. Sauk Centre beat Staples-Motley 54-48 in overtime on the Jim & Adrienne Smith Court on the St. John’s University campus.
It sends the Mainstreeters (26-2) to the Section 6-2A final at 8 p.m. Friday at St. Cloud State’s Halenbeck Hall. Sauk Centre plays the South Sub-Section 5-2A champion. New London-Spicer beat Litchfield 70-46 for the South title late Wednesday at St. John’s.
“We definitely didn’t want this to be our last game,” Ellens said.
They didn’t let that happen. Sauk Centre rallied from a 38-30 deficit with 11:02 to play. Staples-Motley (21-6), which has lost to the Mainstreeters four straight years in the playoffs, was in the midst of a 20-4 run to start the second half.
But Sauk Centre, which has been to the last three state girls basketball tournaments and also the last three state volleyball tourneys with many of the same group of players, came back.
Brianna VonWahlde got hot, scoring 15 of her 18 points in the second half, including a critical field goal in overtime. Sauk Centre also got a three-pointer from Macy Weller in OT as the Mainstreeters scored the first five points in the extra four minutes, then held on.
“It seems like it happens every time in the playoffs,” VonWahlde said of her excellent playoff play.
“Just like in volleyball, too,” Weller said. “She plays her best games in the playoffs, which is exactly what’s supposed to happen.”
What wasn’t supposed to happen was an experienced Sauk Centre team getting down so far in the playoffs, even if the Mainstreeters were seeded second and Staples-Motley first. The teams were supposed to play during the regular season, but the game was canceled twice because of weather. Wednesday’s game was supposed to be played Tuesday but was postponed due to the snow .
The fourth time must be the charm for the Mainstreeters.
Sauk Centre led 26-16 at halftime, playing outstanding defense and holding down the Cardinals’ outside game.
“That was the best defense I’ve seen on any team I’ve played on,” said Weller, who had 16 points, 14 rebounds and is headed to St. Cloud State on a volleyball scholarship.
SAUK CENTRE – Jena Klaphake 3 (5 assists, 3 steals), Elizabeth Ellens 9 (6 assists, 5 rebounds), Jordan Gambradt 1, Macy Weller 16 (14 rebounds), Brianna VonWahlde 18 (7 rebounds), Ali Peterson 6, Madison Moritz 0, Sydney Zenzen 1. FG 19-42, FT 10-18, REB 42, PF 12, ASST 13, TO 17, BLK 1, ST 3.
STAPLES-MOTLEY – Jaelin Beachy 6, Mikayla Wing 13 (3 steals), Kelly Pearson 7, Brooke Wolhowe 4, Jasmine McGillivray 10 (6 rebounds, 5 steals), Mackenzie Holst 2, Kaitlin Spar 4, Kyann Nyhus 2, Grace Wolhowe 0. FG 18-52, FT 9-17, REB 26, PF 18, ASST 4, TO 9, BLK 3, STL 12.
Halftime: Sauk Centre 26, Staples-Motley 16.
New London-Spicer 70, Litchfield 46
COLLEGEVILLE – Junior guard Taylor Thunstedt had 30 points, seven assists and seven steals to lead New London-Spicer to the South Sub-Section 5-2A championship.
New London-Spicer (24-4) also got 11 points from Olivia Setterberg and 10 from Lydia Kleft. Greta Walsh had 15 points for Litchfield (15-13).