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Two weeks ago, Maranatha and Holy Family Catholic met in a postseason primer that proved to be a preview of the Class 2A, Section 5 final Friday night in Halenbeck Hall at St. Cloud State University.
Mustangs coach Chris Buerman and Ellen Thompson, the Fire’s coach, remember the game as fast and physical, with both saying Friday was more of the same.
Case in point: Kylie Post went up for a rebound in the first half and was bumped in mid-air, resulting in her falling hard to the floor on her back.
“That’s probably going to bruise,” Post said, adding that when the game was flowing she wasn’t bothered by the injury. “When the ball wasn’t in and when people were shooting free throws is when I noticed it the most.”
Maranatha, seeded second, pulled through floor burns and bruises to emerge with a 65-55 victory over No. 1 Holy Family Catholic and advance to its ninth consecutive state tournament in a game that saw nearly 50 fouls.
“We knew they were going to grind out the game and try to control possession,” Buerman said. “We tried to take the legs out of their shots or they were going to catch us at the end.”
Post tallied a team-high 18 points for the Mustangs, ranked second in Class 2A by Minnesota Basketball News. She scored 10 in a grueling first half where neither team could gain a significant edge.
“This was a really hard trip through sections compared to 1A. We had to show up last game, where before it wasn't as hard to get to state,” Post said, referring to her team’s tight 80-77 victory over Watertown-Mayer in the semifinals last Tuesday.
After a three-pointer from Shea Thompson tied the game three minutes into the second half, Maranatha went on an 8-2 run. Post, a University of Minnesota-Crookston commit, capped the run with a transition basket where she stole the ball and banked in a wide-angle layup.
Both teams traded blows back and forth before Mustangs freshman Macy Smith, Kae Seana Barth-Lofton and Monmouth signee, Jaclyn Jarnot, scored consecutively. Maranatha sank nine of its final 10 free throws to secure the victory.
Holy Family Catholic played without a starter in Grace Conroy. Thompson pointed out their issues with depth — due to injury and illness — as a factor to not sinking shots late in the game.
“I’m proud of our kids. They played really hard,” Thompson said. “Maranatha’s a great, physical team and we just didn’t have the depth tonight to handle that.”
Jarnot scored 27 points on Tuesday but was held relatively in check on Friday: she scored 11 points but contributed on the glass with 15 rebounds. Smith, not yet old enough to get her license, showed veteran poise as she sank all eight of her free throws as a model of consistency throughout the game.
Post, a member of Maranatha for its two runner-up finishes in Class 1A in 2015 and 2016 state tournaments, said they’re around for one reason.
“A championship. We want to move up and show that we’re here to play.”
Kylie Post’s 18 points carried second-seeded Marantha to its ninth consecutive state tournament following a 65-55 win over No. 1 Holy Family Catholic Friday night in the Class 2A, Section 5 championship at St. Cloud State University.
Ranked No. 2 in Class 2A by Minnesota Basketball News, the Mustangs (26-4) used an 8-2 run to pull away in the second half and sank eight of their last nine free throws to preserve the lead. Post, a University of Minnesota-Crookston commit, scored twice on the run.
Leigh Steiner, the Fire’s lone double-digit scorer, posted a game-high 20 points for Holy Family Catholic (21-9). Monmouth prospect Jaclyn Jarnot posted 11 points and pulled down 15 rebounds for Maranatha.
After moving up this season from Class 1A, the Mustangs will play in their first-ever Class 2A state tournament.
The MN Girls' Basketball Hub poll is for entertainment purposes only.