Northfield senior guard Grace Touchette never lost faith in her team, even as Grand Rapids rained down daggers from Heaven.
Senior guard Heaven Hamling had her unseeded Thunderhawks thinking upset as she made four three-pointers to fuel a seven-point lead in the second half. From there, though, No. 2 seed Northfield turned up the defensive pressure in a 64-54 victory Thursday in the Class 3A semifinal at Target Center.
"We know that you can't make 100 percent of your shots, especially when they're contested," said Touchette, adding that the Raiders' height and deep roster convinced her that "eventually we'll run them down."
The Raiders (27-3) advance to face No. 1 seed Cooper in the Class 3A championship game Saturday.
After Hamling's hot shooting gave Grand Rapids a 47-40 lead, Northfield's defense permitted just seven points for the remainder of the game.
Raiders coach Tony Mathison said he "challenged our girls during a couple timeouts, and said, 'We need to start outworking them.' "
"They were very aggressive and applying a lot of pressure and that kind of threw us off," said Kris Hamling, Grand Rapids coach and Heaven's mother.
Touchette's nine points helped spark Northfield to a 59-51 lead with 2:47 left. She finished with 21 points, the only Northfield player in double-digits. But eight other Raiders had at least two points and Northfield outscored Grand Rapids 15-0 off the bench.
They were better inside, too. Grand Rapids forwards Hannah DeMars (14 points) and Maggie Miska (10) made shots but Northfield's quartet of 6-footers — Emma Carlson, Annika Hoff, Rachel Kelly and Annalee Olson-Sola — combined for 22 points, 20 rebounds and six blocks.
"We have a hard time matching up with height, and they have a lot of height," Kris Hamling said.
Grand Rapids (22-8) had its eight-game winning streak end.