Mountain Iron-Buhl coach Jeff Buffetta didn't know what to do at halftime: His Rangers squad actually had a lead.
The Rangers (30-1) built an eight-point cushion at the intermission en route to a 50-31 victory over Sleepy Eye in the Class 1A quarterfinals Thursday at Williams Arena. They had trailed at halftime in their past three Section 7 playoff games.
"We're not used to playing with the lead," Buffetta said. "It was an adjustment for us."
In those three come-from-behind victories, Mountain Iron-Buhl trailed by 11, four and seven points. It won all three games by at least five points.
"It was more nerve-wracking playing with a lead than it was from behind," Buffetta said. "We'll take a win any way we can get."
Back from fractured skull
Faith Johnson Patterson didn't ask much from Mariah Adanene. The DeLaSalle coach was simply impressed that the senior forward was able to play at all.
Adanene missed much of the season after fracturing her skull in practice in December. She wasn't expected to return this season but managed to just before the end of the regular season.
"She worked so hard to get back," Johnson Patterson said after the Islanders' quarterfinal victory over Monticello. "Coming back from an injury like that can take six months. It's amazing to me she's back at all."
Adanene scored 12 points in the quarterfinals and had 14 points in the Islanders' 59-51 semifinal victory over to Fergus Falls.
Oh say, can you sing, too?
The Class 3A tournament got off to an unusual but effective start Thursday at Target Center. St. Paul Central junior Samia Butler admittedly froze after singing the opening verse of the national anthem. She paused, collected herself, then asked the crowd to sing along before she started. Many did as asked, giving the anthem a community-like feeling with Butler leading the singalong. She received a rousing ovation at the conclusion.
"It wasn't planned. I was nervous," Butler said. "But I'm glad I did it. It worked out pretty well."