March 18, 2017 08:39 PM
In each of the past three seasons, Orono has been either a top-ranked or top-seeded team in Class AAA. In 2015, the Spartans were the top seed in the state tournament, but were upset in the semifinals by No. 4 Marshall. In 2016, Orono was top-ranked, but lost to Hutchinson in the section final and didn’t qualify for the state tournament.
In 2017, the Spartans hit no such roadblocks. With only one returning starter and a new coach, Orono completed its journey as a top-ranked and top-seeded team with a championship following a 65-47 victory over No. 2 Winona in the Class AAA title game at Williams Arena.
Senior guard Tori Andrew led the Spartans (27-4) to their historic milestone with 22 points and senior forward Mattea Rice was a dominant force in the paint with 19 points and eight rebounds. Senior guard Natalie Smaron had eight points and 12 rebounds.
Orono is the third No. 1 seed in the 11 years of seeding in the four-class era to win a Class AAA championship. The other two are Becker in 2007 and Park Center in 2014 in a triple overtime win over Marshall.
Winona (26-5), which finished runner-up for the second consecutive season, was paced by senior forward Abby Winter’s 14 points and 12 from senior guard Eden Nibbelink.
Andew, a Yale recruit, scored 15 points in the first half, including 4 of 7 from three-point range, to stake the Spartans to a 39-25 lead at the break. Rice had a banner first half, making all seven of her shots and grabbing seven rebounds.
Courtesy: MSHSL Staff
Created: March 18, 2017 08:39 PM
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