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MSHSL Girls State Tournament Report
On Friday, March 6 the Providence Academy girls basketball team punched their ticket to the MSHSL State Tournament at Halenbeck Hall on the campus of St. Cloud State University with a 49-38 victory over Watertown-Mayer (22-8).
Offensively, the Lions (25-5) were led by the freshman dynamic duo of Kyra Miller who scored 16 points and Grace Counts who added 14 in the victory over the Royals. But it was the defense led by seniors Madie Anderson and Hailey Hohenecker sealed the win. Anderson and Hohenecker, along with junior defensive specialist Olivia Klammer held the Royals star junior guard and Gopher recruit Maggie Czinano to 17 points, 10 points below her season average and that was that.
The Royals jumped out to an early lead on the hot shooting of Czinano along with seniors Shelby Mueller and Libby Heilman but the patient Lions chipped away and took a 25-22 lead at halftime.
The second half was a battle as the two squads exchanged volleys and, in the end, the Lions went on a 13-3 tear to put the game away and earn a trip to State!
Of the team’s success, Head Coach Conner Goetz explains, “Our team captains started off this year reading the book “Toughness” by Jay Bilas. It’s a book that makes you rethink what the word tough means. It’s not about being extra physical or flexing your muscle, but about doing the little things that make your team better. Things like communicating on defense, having a next play mentality, boxing out on every single shot, and helping a teammate up when they hit the floor. These are the sorts of things that our captains and leaders bought into during this basketball season. Those are the little things that help teams win games when it comes down to the wire.”
Goetz continues, “Our goal this year was to focus on one game at a time, one possession at a time. If we could win every possession we played, we felt good about our chances this year. I am so incredibly proud to coach a team of girls who play for each other every time they step out onto the court. We still are not done with our mission and we plan to make the most out of every second we get on the court.”
The MSHSL Class 2AA tournament opened on Wednesday, March 11 and the Lions played Sauk Centre at 6:00 p.m. in Maturi Pavilion on the campus of the University of Minnesota.
Not since 2013 have the Providence Academy Lions (26-5) been counted among the teams at the MSHSL Class 2AA girls basketball tournament. The Lions were among the non-ranked teams and had the unfriendly draw of number two ranked Sauk Center (28-4) as their first round opponent in the 2020 MSHSL State girls basketball tournament. In a back and forth first half the Lions found themselves down by six at the half. Not to be denied, Providence Academy roared back to out score number two ranked Sauk Center 33-22 in the second half to upset the Mainstreeters 47-45.
Of the game Coach Goetz describes, “We felt a lot of love from our school and community today. It was so amazing to see the girls walk out with the support of the band, support staff, teachers, and fellow students. We can’t thank everyone enough for all the support.”
Offensively, the Lions were led by freshman Kyra Miller with 14 points, fellow freshman Grace Counts added 12 points and senior Hailey Hohenecker chipped in 11 points in the victory. Defensively, the Counts sisters accounted for 18 rebounds and seniors Madie Anderson, Hohenecker and Lauren Kettler combined for another 17 rebounds in the effort.
Sophomore Maria Counts led the way with five critical steals and Kettler paved the way with three blocked shots but none was bigger than the Maria Counts block with 10 seconds left and the senior Madie Anderson recovery to seal the final Lions victory.
Goetz summerizes, “Tonight’s game was all about resilience. We shot poorly in the first half, only knocking down 4 shots, but our defense and free throw shooting were able to keep us in the game. When the second half came around we knew we had to keep them off the offensive rebounds and our girls stepped up big time to the challenge. We were able to slowly chip away at their halftime lead and then build a double digit lead of our own. It was our ability to stick together in the end that allowed us to come away with the victory. We’ll need to keep that going if we want to continue to win more games in this tournament.”
Next up: The Lions will take the floor on Friday, March 13 at Williams Arena on the campus of the University of Minnesota to face the Marshall School Hilltoppers in a scheduled 8:00 p.m. tipoff.
Semifinals and Championship Games may be watched on Channel 45 or via Live Stream.
Scoring details can be found at MN Girls Basketball Hub.
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