White Bear Lake's Jordan Ferrand smiles as she cuts down the nets following the Bears' win over East Ridge in the Class 4A, Section 4 final Thursday. Photo by John Molene, SportsEngine
White Bear Lake's Courtney Crouch drives to the basket against the defense of East Ridge's Mariah Sexe. Photo by John Molene, SportsEngine.
Trailing East Ridge by one point with less than 20 seconds remaining in the Class 4A, Section 4 championship game, White Bear Lake guard Alexa Molin turned a broken play into the Bears' biggest bucket of the season.
Following a timeout, Bears coach Jeremy Post designed an inbounds play, but when it fell apart, Molin dribbled, hesitated and stepped back behind the three-point arc and buried the go-ahead shot.
East Ridge missed a shot on its next possession and then fouled Molin, made one of two free throws.
Raptors’ leading scorer Noelle Tomes, who scored a game-high 19 points, had a chance to tie the score at the buzzer, but her shot was deflected and White Bear Lake won 52-49.
“We were going to run a play and if it didn’t work, we had a timeout and could restart,” Post said. “(Molin) had not scored much the whole game, so to do that was big. East Ridge was trying to take her away, but she stepped up and made it.”
Molin’s late game heroics were almost not needed as the Bears held a four-point lead with less than two minutes to play, but the Raptors forced three turnovers to push the game to overtime.
Mariah Sexe and Kelen Kenol pulled down several game-changing offensive rebounds in the final minutes. Sexe finished with 18 points, including East Ridge’s final basket that tied the game 49-49.
“You can’t just worry about (Tomes),” Post said. “They have two scholarship post players and they are just good everywhere.”
The Bears' well-rounded scoring attack got the upper hand on East Ridge’s big three of Tomes, Kenol and Sexe.
Molin finished with six points. Jordan Ferrand and Courtney Couch co-led the Bears with 12 points apiece and Adri Perron added 10.
In the regular season, White Bear Lake lost to East Ridge twice but got the win that mattered most. With the victory, the Bears advance to the state tournament for a third consecutive year.
“I do not really buy into that,” Raptors coach Glen Wurm said about the difficulty of playing White Bear Lake for a third time. “They were able to make one more than we were tonight.”
White Bear Lake defeated East Ridge for the first time this season, taking home the 52-49 win in the Class 4A, Section 4 championship at Hastings High School and advancing to the state tournament for a third consecutive year.
The Bears led by four with under two minutes to play but the Raptors forced three turnovers while White Bear Lake (20-9) tried to preserve the lead and forced overtime.
In overtime, Bear’s guard Alexa Molin hit a 3-pointer with under 20 seconds remaining to give White Bear Lake a 51-49 lead.
East Ridge (21-8) leading scorer Noelle Tomes had a chance at the buzzer to tie the game after Molin hit a free throw on the following possession, but it was blocked and White Bear Lake advanced to the state tournament with the final whistle.
Senior guard Noelle Tomes goes up for two of her team-high 19 points for East Ridge Thursday. Photo by John Molene, SportsEngine.