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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Win-E-Mac wins 73-38 against Clearbrook-Gonvick

THIEF RIVER FALLS — In each of its first three Section 8A playoff games, Clearbrook-Gonvick was able to rally from double-figure deficits to win.

That streak was snapped in a big way here Friday in the 8A girls high school basketball championship game. Win-E-Mac jumped to a 17-1 lead and was never headed en route to a 73-38 win against the Bears and a repeat section title.

“We ran into a brick wall in Win-E-Mac,” Bears coach Ross Faldet said. “They’re the real deal. We couldn’t find a weakness.

“They have long bodies and they play defense so well. It’s hard to get anything going on offense against a defense like that.”

Win-E-Mac was aware of the Bears’ comeback skills. “We were hoping to come out early and make a point,” Patriots sophomore point guard Madison McKeever said.

Make that an exclamation point with that 17-1 start. It was a start with a little bit of everything — two fast-break layups, two treys, an offensive rebound putback, points off turnovers.

“We’re usually pretty fast out of the gate,” Patriots coach Ian Hanson said. “And when we start like that, it seems to motivate the girls. They like a fast pace.”

Win-E-Mac put away the game with a big first half, taking a 47-16 lead into intermission.

Clearbrook-Gonvick had 17 first-half turnovers, most of them on steals or interceptions by the aggressive Patriot defenders. Win-E-Mac converted those turnovers into 29 points in the first half, during which the Patriots were a red-hot 18-of-27 (67 percent) shooting from the field — accuracy helped by six fast-break layups.

“We watched them (Bears) in their last two games,” Hanson said. “We saw they could make runs. We wanted to get the lead up enough early that we wouldn’t to worry about their runs.

“Our defense transitions into our offense. We get turnovers and take off. We were jumping the passing lanes. These girls love to get the steals and get the running game going.”

Clearbrook-Gonvick never challenged in the second half, as the Patriots led by 28 or more the entire second half.

McKeever scored 23 and center Shelby Kaster had 19 to lead the offense for Win-E-Mac, which takes a 28-2 record to next week’s state tournament. Madison Stenzel had 13 points and Liz Bodensteiner 11 to pace Clearbrook-Gonvick, which closed with a 17-12 record.