As recently as Tuesday morning, Andover forward Amanda Dagostino wasn't sure, because of an ankle injury, if she would play in the Huskies' Class4A, Section 7 final against rival Anoka.
The senior forward showed no lingering effects in the second half on Wednesday, however. She scored six key points down the stretch as the Huskies survived a relentless second-half comeback, squeaking past the Tornadoes 46-45 at North Branch High School.
"I wasn't sure if I could play," Dagostino said. "[My ankle] was bothering me a little bit in the first half, but I really didn't feel it in the second half."
Andover (20-9) became the first team in the state to qualify for the state tournament beginning next Tuesday.
For the first half, that seemed inevitable as the Huskies, who had defeated Anoka twice during the regular season, raced to a 30-18 halftime lead.
Anoka bounced back in the second half, confusing Andover by switching defenses and getting 10 points from junior Noelle Josephson. The Tornadoes chipped away and pulled within 46-45 on two free throws from leading scorer Brittany Bongartz, who finished with 15 points.
"That's a well-coached team over there," Andover coach Robb Belschner said. "It's so tough to beat a team three times."
Anoka had the ball in the game's final seconds, but defensive pressure from guard Joli Daninger forced a game-ending turnover.
The DePaul-bound Daninger, who led Andover with 13 points, said the team never lost confidence despite watching its lead shrink.
"We were confident because we never lost the lead," she said. "This is such a great feeling. I wasn't ready to finish playing high school basketball yet."