GIRLS BASKETBALL: Win-E-Mac wins state title
Yet, even with that veteran lineup back and a team that had only lost two games heading into last week’s state tournament, the Patriots didn’t get one of the top five seeds in the tournament.
“I think small towns get overlooked and underrated sometimes,’’ Patriots senior forward Korbyn Ross said. “We went (to state) with a lets-show-what-we-can-do attitude.’’
What the Patriots showed is that seedings don’t matter. Win-E-Mac brought home a state championship trophy.
The Patriots beat Minneota 61-53 here Saturday in the title game of the Class A state tournament. Minneota was the No. 1 seed in the tournament as well as defending state champion.
“That was our plan, to show that they made a mistake in the seeding with us,’’ Win-E-Mac coach Ian Hanson said. “We weren’t happy about it. But it didn’t matter. We beat the No. 3 and the No. 1 seeds.’’
Madison McKeever scored 27 points and Ross 17 to lead Win-E-Mac, which took a permanent lead with a big first-half run.
The Patriots, down 17-12 in the first half, went on a 17-2 run to take the lead for good. Ross hit a 3-pointer with 6:08 left in the half to put the Patriots ahead to stay at 21-19.
“That was a big turning point,’’ Ross said of the 17-2 spurt. “I think we started frustrating them. And it was a huge momentum swing for us.’’
Said Hanson: “We looked tired after the first few minutes of the game. But that (run) got us going. We played with energy after that.’’
Win-E-Mac led 35-26 at halftime and built its lead up to 15 points (47-32 with 12:23 remaining).
Minneota rallied, pulling within 52-50 when Molly Hennen hit a 3-point basket with 3:25 remaining.
“That was a little scary,’’ Ross said. “But we kept our composure.’’
Win-E-Mac responded with nine unanswered points to ice the victory and state title. McKeever had four points, Ross three and Alayna Espeseth two in the clinching run.
“That’s the way the whole tournament went for us,’’ Hanson said. “We’d get leads, other teams would whittle it down, but our girls persevered.’’
Taylor Reiss scored 18 points and Emily Stienessen 17 to lead Minneota.
The Patriots’ McKeever, Ross and Shelby Kaster were named to the all-tournament team.