3A: St. Michael, Benilde, DeLaSalle, Marshall win

  • Article by: Jim Paulsen and Ron Haggstrom
  • Star Tribune
  • March 15, 2006 - 10:52 PM

Newcomers owned the morning bracket Wednesday, while tournament veterans had relatively easy victories in the afternoon games in the Class 3A quarterfinals.

DeLaSalle, making its first state tournament appearance, defeated Willmar 61-45 and Benilde-St. Margaret's beat Rogers 53-40. BSM was making its first tourney appearance since 1977.

In the afternoon games, St. Michael-Albertville, the 2001 Class 2A champ, beat Hermantown 68-52 and Marshall, the 2001 and 2002 Class 3A champions, easily dispatched New Prague 53-42.

DeLaSalle 61, Willmar 45: Long known for its smothering, ball-hawking defense, DeLaSalle unveiled its offense. The Islanders (23-7) found openings nearly everywhere they looked and took full advantage, playing their best game of the season offensively.

Can't miss: The Islanders shot a remarkable 65.8 percent from the floor (25-for-38).

Their performance was all the more impressive considering Willmar (23-5) had also made its reputation on defense. The Cardinals had won 15 games in a row and entered the game with the best defensive average in Class 3A, giving up less than 38 points per game.

"Their five starters were as good offensively as any team we've seen," Willmar coach Brad Atchison said.

Rachel Booth led DeLaSalle with 16 points and Sheena Porter added 14.

• Big run: Midway through the second half, DeLaSalle handed the task of guarding Willmar's high-scoring forward Laura Nielsen to Aaryn Booker. DeLaSalle subsequently went a 13-1 run and Nielsen, who had 23 points to that point, was shut out for the rest of the game.

Benilde-St. Margaret's 53, Rogers 40: In all, there was just too much Benilde-St. Margaret's. Too much size. Too much experience. Too much grit. With only one senior in the starting lineup and two on the entire roster, Rogers was hoping enthusiasm would help carry it. But the Royals are a bit on the small side -- "We're rails," coach Lamar Detert said -- and they could not handle BSM's bulk.

"One of our attributes is that we're balanced," BSM coach Bob Lyons said. "We wanted to go out and get physical and get after them."

Key player: Kachine Alexander. The junior guard controlled the game. She finished with a game-high 14 points, grabbed seven rebounds, made four steals and put the clamps on Rogers' Casey Mann, holding the Royals star guard to just seven points.

Guard Jessie Monk added 12 points for BSM (25-4) and LaToya Williams chipped in with nine. The Red Knights outrebounded Rogers 37-24, including a 17-7 edge on the offensive boards.

St. Michael-Albertville 68, Hermantown 52: Riding a deep bench and the effective defense of guard Marla Arns, the Knights (24-6) pulled away in the second half to defeat the Hawks (26-3).

Dynamic duo: St. Michael- Albertville has leaned on seniors Arns and Jodi Reinschmidt all year. That proved to be an effective strategy once again.

Arns, normally the Knights' primary outside scoring threat, put all of her energies into stopping Hermantown's main weapon, guard Anna Bjorlin. She was held to 15 points, 10 below her average, on 5-for-24 shooting and committed 12 turnovers.

With Arns occupied, Reinschmidt, a senior forward, picked up the scoring slack with a season-high 28 points and added 12 rebounds.

"Arns really stepped up to the challenge on defense," St. Michael coach Kent Hamre said. "And Reinschmidt, she had that look in her eye that nothing was going to stop her."

Marshall 53, New Prague 42: The Tigers had a distinct height advantage. Their game plan was simple: Take the ball to the hoop. Marshall scored 28 of its 34 first-half points in the paint while building a 16-point lead.

Fast start: The Tigers scored on layups on five consecutive possessions in the first half.

Junior point guard Macie Michelson continually broke down the New Prague defense. If the junior wasn't dishing off for an open look, she was going to the basket herself. Michelson had 11 points and three assists in the first half.

"We knew what we had to do, and that was to get the ball inside," Michelson said. She finished with 15 points and five assists.

The Tigers started settling for perimeter shots in the second half, and New Prague pulled within 36-31 with 10:40 remaining. Marshall then started to go back inside, and scored on four consecutive possessions.

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