March 16, 2017 10:51 PM
For the first time in the four-class era, two undefeated girls basketball teams will meet for a state championship. Elk River ensured that with a 57-56 victory over Lakeville North in the Class AAAA semifinals late Thursday night at Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota campus.
The victory sends the No. 2-seeded Elks (31-0) into the big-school championship game on Saturday night against No. 1 Hopkins (31-0). There were some nail-biting moments, though, before the Elks could celebrate their championship game berth.
Senior guard Ava Kramer supplied what would prove to be the winning basket when she scored on a layup with 56 seconds remaining in regulation to give the Elks a 57-56 lead. Those final 56 seconds took many minutes to play, a span that was filled with steals, turnovers, blocks, timeouts and missed game-winning shots.
Lakeville North freshman guard Lauren Jensen appeared to give the Panthers the lead on a short jumper from the wing with four seconds remaining, but the basket was waved off because Lakeville North coach Shelly Clemons had called a timeout. After much discussion on how much time to put on the clock, senior guard Temi Carda missed a jumper attempt and then so did Jensen with one second left.
Senior guard Gabi Haack scored 15 of her 20 points in the second half for the Elks. Kramer and senior forward Sidney Wentland had 10 points each.
Lakeville North (28-3), the No. 3 seed, was attempting to make its first return trip to the state championship game since winning the Class AAAA crown in 2010.
Lakeville North held a 25-24 advantage at the break behind eight points from junior forward Taylor Brown and six from senior guard Olivia Bruce. The Panthers shot 38.5 percent in the first half, including 3 of 8 from three-point range. One of those was from Brown with eight seconds left in the first half that gave the Panthers the lead at the break.
Elk River had held a 24-13 lead in the final minutes of the first half, but the Panthers closed on a 12-0 run to take the one-point lead at the break.
(Courtesy: MSHSL staff)
Created: March 16, 2017 10:51 PM
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