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5-24 Anoka continues magical postseason run

By Michael Rand, 03/09/11, 7:26AM CST


Improbable Tornadoes play for secttion title on Friday

When a high school basketball team wins more playoff games than regular season games, it's only logical to try to figure out what the heck is going on. There's only one problem ...

"We don't know either," Anoka athletic director John Baufield said with a laugh Tuesday, one day after the Tornadoes girls' basketball team won its third consecutive section playoff game after a 2-24 regular season.

It started with a victory March 1 over No. 8-seeded Duluth Central in the play-in game to reach the Class 4A, Section 7 quarterfinals. From there, No. 9 Anoka stunned top-seeded Duluth East 62-49 on Thursday and followed that with a 67-57 shocker over fourth-seeded Andover on Monday.

Anoka played Duluth East and Andover a combined three times in the regular season, losing all three by a total of 55 points. Next up is No. 3 seed Cambridge-Isanti in Friday's section final at North Branch, with a trip to the state tournament on the line. The Tornadoes lost to the Bluejackets by 24 points during the regular season, which might mean they have them right where they want them.

"Against Duluth East, the message was, 'Shock the world,'" coach James Fassett said. "[Monday] night, it was, 'Why not us?' I'll have to go to YouTube and find some more inspiration for Friday."

Fassett said the victory over Duluth Central gave his team confidence that carried over. Anoka's roster is full of young players who have had success at the youth level. Basketball-wise, they are growing up -- led by freshman Claire Lundberg, who has set new career highs in points in each of her three playoff games (16 vs. Duluth Central, 18 vs. Duluth East and 23 vs. Andover).

"Our whole team is just working better together," Lundberg said. "We want to win really bad. It would be fun to go to the state tournament."

So the pressure is on Friday, right?

"People keep saying that, but we're the No. 9 seed in a nine-team section. There's no pressure," senior Shauni Payeur said. "We're just playing our game and having fun, and apparently it's working."


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