Spring ahead took on even more meaning Saturday afternoon in Goodhue. December is a distant memory.
The No. 2-ranked Wildcats avenged a regular-season beat-down by No. 1 Mountain Iron-Buhl, successfully defending their Class 1A state championship with a 73-51 victory over the Rangers at Williams Arena. Mountain Iron-Buhl throttled Goodhue 78-34 on Dec. 3.
"That game was in the back of our heads all of the time," Goodhue senior guard Mckenzie Ryan said. "It's an amazing feeling to be back-to-back state champions. Not too many people can say that."
Goodhue jumped on the Rangers at the outset, racing to a 16-6 lead in the first seven minutes. Senior guard Maddy Miller scored eight of her game-high 21 points during the quick start.
The Wildcats' 2-3 zone also pushed Mountain Iron-Buhl's offense farther out on the court than it preferred, limiting the Rangers to two field goals in their first 11 attempts.
"Goodhue really took it to us aggressively," Mountain Iron-Buhl coach Jeff Buffetta said.
The Rangers (31-2) needed to change the momentum and did so by picking up Goodhue with full-court pressure on defense.
It ignited a 13-2 run by forcing four turnovers, capped by senior guard Mya Buffetta's three-pointer that gave the Rangers a 19-18 lead with 6:21 left in the first half.
Ryan quickly restored order for the Wildcats (28-4) with back-to-back three-point plays. Both plays were identical, hard-driving layups to the basket and one. Ryan wound up with 14 points as the Wildcats had four players in double figures. Goodhue led 29-22 at halftime.
"It gave us a lot of energy, a spark," Ryan said.
It carried over into the second half. Junior forward Sydney Lodermeier buried a three-pointer on the Wildcats' initial possession, and the celebration was drawing near.
She finished with a double-double (14 points and 14 rebounds). The Wildcats held a 45-22 advantage on the boards.
Senior guard Chelsea Mason led the Rangers with 16 points.
"[The first meeting] was very humbling," Goodhue coach Josh Wieme said. "We questioned ourselves a lot.
"We wanted our players to focus day-to-day on getting a little better. It paid off."