Minneota's Emily Stienessen split the defense of Mountain Iron-Buhl's Mya Buffetta (left) and Lissy McCulloch (right). Photo: Bruce Bisping/Star Tribune * email@example.com
The Minnesota State High School League does not seed classes 1A and 2A of the girls’ basketball state tournament, in part because great distances between schools means fewer common opponents and more difficulty establishing a pecking order.
But Mountain Iron-Buhl and Minneota, more than 325 miles apart, gained familiarity at a summer tournament. Minneota junior forward Molly Hennen said her team won by double-digits, giving the Vikings hope in Thursday’s Class 1A quarterfinal rematch at Williams Arena.
Hennen hit two clutch free throws as Minneota, ranked No. 4 in the final Minnesota Basketball News poll, posted a 60-53 upset of No. 1 Mountain Iron-Buhl.
“It means a lot,” Hennen said of dispatching the Rangers, who finished as state runner-ups last season. “We knew they were a great team so it feels great beating them.”
Minneota coach Chad Johnson worried his team’s poor free-throw shooting — the Vikings were 0-for-4 in the first half — would spell trouble.
“That’s the kind of stuff you can’t have when you get to the state tournament,” Johnson said.
Hennen hit two free throws with 55 seconds remaining to build a seven-point lead the Vikings would not relinquish.
“We weren’t doing that well with our free throws so I knew I had to step up,” Hennen said.
Vikings sophomore guard Taylor Reiss led all scorers with 21 points.
DAVID La VAQUE
1. Taylor Reiss: Taylor Reiss showed up with her A-game today as she leads the game with a total of 21 points and which 3 are three pointers. Out of the 14 times she got her hands on the ball she completed 9 of those shots combined with 5 offensive rebounds she's today's key player.
2. Payton Boerboom: With 12 points; she completed one of two three point attempts while scoring 5 out of 9 field goals.
3. Lissy McCulloch: This sophomore with 12 points for the day made 2 of her three point attempts and completed both of her free throws.
-Luke Grigore, MNBasketballHub