Sleepy Eye coach Ryan Hulke knew his undersized squad would have its hands full with Lyle/Pacelli's imposing center, Kristi Fett. The challenge grew when Fett got in the flow from the outset.
The 6-5 senior scored 30 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and blocked five shots, leading the Athletics to their first state championship with a 57-33 victory over the Indians in the Class 1A final Saturday at Target Center. Both schools were making their first championship game appearance.
"It was my last game ever. I wanted to go out with a bang," said Fett, who went 11-for-17 from the field and 8-for-11 from the free-throw line. "It was the game of a lifetime."
Fett scored the Athletics' opening basket after taking a lob pass from sophomore forward Olivia Christianson. It was a clear indication of what was in store for Sleepy Eye (28-5).
Fett had 17 points in the first half as the No. 1-ranked Athletics built a 31-22 lead. They closed the first half on a 14-7 run, with Fett scoring half of the points in the spurt. At halftime she was 6-for-8 from the field and 5-for-6 from the free-throw line.
"She's a handful," Hulke said. "Even when we tried a zone, I felt they had an easier time getting her the ball."
Lyle/Pacelli (32-1) put the game out of reach at the start of the second half. It scored the first 10 points, once again half of them by Fett, to extend the lead to 41-22.
"My teammates did a good job of getting the ball inside to me," Fett said. "I was really focused today."
The Athletics limited Sleepy Eye leading scorer Madi Heiderscheidt to a team-high eight points. She had 49 points in the Indians' first two tournament games.
"Madi is the real deal. We knew where she was all the time," Lyle/Pacelli coach Justin Morris said. "Our defense was phenomenal."
Austin-based Pacelli's nickname before combining with nearby Lyle was the Shamrocks. It was fitting for the St. Patrick's Day matchup. They just didn't need any luck.
"We are incredibly proud of this group," said Morris, who is leaving the program after compiling a record of 129-18 in six seasons. "The puzzle pieces fit together perfectly for this team."