Becker players stream onto the floor to celebrate their 70-58 victory over Marshall in the Class 3A championship game Friday at Target Center. Photo: Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
Becker’s power in the Class 3A championship game came in threes.
Seven successful three-pointers fueled the Bulldogs’ 70-58 victory against previously undefeated Marshall. Equally important to their success was a third consecutive run to the season’s final game.
They finished second at the 2019 state tournament. A redemption bid last March was lost to the coronavirus pandemic on the eve of the championship game. But Friday’s victory at the Target Center squared all accounts for the Bulldogs’ tenacious class of 2021.
“We did it,” said senior guard Julia Bengtson, who helped secure the program’s first state title since 2007. “We had that goal, that discipline and we kept the end in sight.”
Becker (19-3), ranked No.3 in the final Minnesota Basketball News poll, relied on Bengtson (a game-high 20 points) and a combined 26 points from fellow senior starters Megan Gamble, Adeline Kent, Alayna Lindquist and Courtney Nuest.
The quintet logged big minutes as sophomores in the 2019 title game. Fittingly, two sophomores — Ayla Brown and Maren Westin — took their turn on Friday. They each scored 12 points as the Bulldogs’ bench outscored Marshall’s unit 24-0.
Conversely, only four players scored for the Tigers (22-1), ranked No.5 in the final Minnesota Basketball News poll. And the work of Jordyn Hilgemann, Emily Meier, Brianna Simpson and Abby Wendorff was enough to challenge Becker.
Marshall outscored Becker 44-30 in the paint, making good on coach Dan Westby’s belief that “we could exploit them inside.”
A tough layup and a foul gave Meier a free-throw chance. Her three-point play capped a 6-0 Tigers’ run and cut their deficit to 49-43.
Bulldogs’ coach Dan Baird expected a game of runs similar to the teams’ 2019 state tournament quarterfinals meeting. His team remained unfazed in the rematch, countering with a 7-2 surge to grab a 56-45 lead.
“They got stronger defensively as the game wore,” Westby said of Becker. “They kept pushing us farther and farther from the basket.”
That, in turn, brought Bulldogs’ players ever closer to their dream.
“One of our mottos was #finishthemission,” Bengston said. “After the game tonight, we got T-shirts that said, ‘Mission accomplished.’ ”
Becker's Julia Bengtson makes a three-point shot early in the first half against Marshall in the Class 3A championship game Friday at Target Center. Photo: Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
Not to be denied for a third consecutive season, Becker captured the Class 3A state tournament championship with a 70-58 victory against previously undefeated Marshall.
The Bulldogs (19-3), ranked No.3 in the final Minnesota Basketball News poll, finished second at the 2019 state tournament. A chance at redemption last March was lost on the eve of the championship game, when the coronavirus pandemic shuttered the tournament.