MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A group of Park Center freshmen were cool under pressure Saturday night.
Ann Simonet scored 26 points, including a free throw late in the third overtime, and the Pirates beat Marshall 73-71 to win the Class 3A state girls basketball championship.
It is the first title for the Park Center (26-5), who also got 21 points from Cayla McMorris.
“What a game,” said coach Chris VanderHyde.
McMorris, who will play at the University of Wisconsin next year, fouled out with 20 seconds left in regulation, leaving the Pirates with four freshmen and a sophomore on the floor for much of the overtime periods.
But the senior wasn’t concerned.
“They don’t play like freshmen,” McMorris said. “Coming from AAU they played against good competition and that just kind of carried over to high school.”
Inside baskets by Feyisayo Ayobamidele and Mikayla Hayes — both ninth-graders — gave the Pirates a 71-69 lead midway through the third overtime, before Kenzie Beekman scored on a putback with 43 seconds left to tie the game.
Simonet, who averaged 7.2 points per game in the regular season, made her free throw with 21 seconds left and, after a Marshall turnover, freshman Danielle Schaub made another free throw.
“We’ve been playing together since fourth grade, so we have a lot of chemistry, we know how each other are on the floor so we just knew how to work with each other,” Schaub said.
Beekman led Marshall (30-2) with 20 points. Hannah Bennett had 16.
The Tigers led by nine points with 5 minutes to go in regulation, but a 15-8 run got the Pirates within 60-58 with 24.4 seconds left.
“Down by nine, I was shaky nervous, but we all stepped up and did our thing,” Schaub said.
After Sarah Buysse missed a free throw, Schaub — 1-for-9 from the field until that point — made a shot in traffic as time expired to force the first extra 4 minutes. She finished with six points.
“Anybody’s who’s seen us this year has seen her hit that runner 100 times,” VanderHyde said. “As soon as she released it, it looked like it was going in.”
Both teams scored four points in the first overtime and three in the second — Park Center’s last two on a steal and layup by Simonet, who finished with five takeaways.
“She’s so reliable and so dependable. I can’t say enough about her,” VanderHyde said.
Park Center led 17-16 midway through the first half, but Morgan Saugstad had six points during an 11-3 run that gave the Tigers a 29-24 halftime lead.
Fergus Falls beat Minneapolis Washburn 72-62 for third place.
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