MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — DeLaSalle tested itself against the best competition in Class 4A this season so it would be ready for anything fellow Class 3A teams had to offer.
The Islanders then proved they could handle their own class just fine.
Tyseanna Johnson scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as DeLaSalle won its first state title with a 63-43 win against Hill-Murray in the Class 3A state girls basketball finals Saturday at Target Center. Mariah Adanene added 17 points, and Allina Starr had 11 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists for the Islanders (27-4), who ended the Pioneers (30-1) shot at a perfect season.
“We had a lot of people overlook us as a team just because we lost to those 4A teams,” Adanene said. “We just knew what kind of team we were and how much better we were. This game really meant a lot to us, to play hard.”
DeLaSalle finished the season with four losses, with each defeat coming against a Class 4A team. Two of its losses came against Hopkins and Eden Prairie, who are playing for the Class 4A championship.
The season began with a 79-72 loss against St. Paul Central. But the Islanders really struggled in the three other losses, including a disappointing 64-29 loss in December to Lakeville North, another Class 4A state tournament team.
“The 4A teams are very physical,” DeLaSalle coach Faith Johnson Patterson said. “It’s very competitve, a lot of Division I athletes out there playing. And we got killed by those teams. Because of those physical battles that accompanied all the emotional things we’ve been going through, I think that’s what really helped prepare us for this final game.”
A physical, defensive game helped the Islanders handle the No. 1 seed Hill-Murray. The Pioneers shot 9 for 22 in the second half and were held to 31.5 percent shooting for the game.
DeLaSalle’s defensive pressure also held Hill-Murray’s leading scorer Tessa Cichy to 5 points. Cichy — who averaged 18.8 points per game during the regular season — was 0 for 8 shooting in a scoreless first half and fouled out with 1:24 remaining. Bethany Doolittle scored 14 points to lead the Pioneers, who lost to Benilde-St. Margaret’s in last year’s finals.
“We’ve been beat prior to this by every No. 1 team in the state,” Johnson Patterson said. “So we said, ‘You know what, that’s it. Enough’s enough. We’ve got to just fight and go for it this time.”‘
(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)