Maranatha shows off its versatility

  • Article by: RON HAGGSTROM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 16, 2012 - 12:34 AM

The Mustangs advanced to the semis, along with Spring Grove, Mountain Iron-Buhl and Ada-Borup.

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Maranatha Christian Academy is the Class 1A defending champion for a reason -- it can slice and dice an opponent in different ways.

The savvy veteran lineup can attack the basket off the dribble, shoot the three or pound the ball in the paint to 6-2 junior center Onye Osemenam.

Isle found out firsthand just how difficult the No. 1-ranked Mustangs (26-5) can be to defend Thursday in a 76-58 loss in the quarterfinals at Williams Arena.

"It's nice having an inside-outside game like we have," Maranatha senior guard Alexis Long said. "I don't even know how we would deal with a team like ours."

With Osemenam dominating inside in the opening minutes, the smaller Huskies tried to keep pace from long distance. Isle's first three baskets were three-pointers.

Osemenam finished with 25 points, 12 rebounds and six blocked shots.

"Onye is very tough to defend," Isle coach Paul Tinjum said. "You don't go against many Division I centers in Class 1A."

Once the 10th-ranked Huskies started to concentrate on Osemenam, the guards controlled play. Long (18 points) and sophomore Madison Lee (13) also reached double figures.

"We are really playing well together, just like we have all year," Long said.

Maja Coomes paced the Huskies (25-6) with 16 points, and had three of their six three-pointers.

Spring Grove 68, Warren-Alvarado-Oslo 66 (OT)

Lions senior guard Richell Mehus was doing everything possible to get her teammates fired up and in the flow of the game. It finally transpired in the final six minutes of regulation.

That's when Spring Grove's second-leading scorer Taylor Elton helped take the burden off Mehus' shoulders. Elton scored 14 of her 17 points, including the Lions' last nine, from that point on as the fourth-ranked Lions outlasted Warren-Alvarado-Oslo in overtime.

"I was waiting for them [teammates] all game," said Mehus, who finished with a game-high 37 points. "Taylor came on at the right time. I knew she had it in her."

Elton's layup with 42 seconds remaining in regulation tied the score at 63 and forced overtime. Her jumper 40 seconds into the extra session gave the Lions (28-3) the lead for good.

"When I made that three [with 5:49 remaining] I finally got in a rhythm," Elton said. "I'm just glad I was able to make some key baskets when our team needed them."

As far as Mehus' performance, Elton said: "She was a beast. There are no words to describe how well she played."

The Ponies (26-5) were led by senior center Sarah Durand, who had 27 points, 13 rebounds and six blocked shots. She scored all three of their points in overtime, and their final 13 of the game.

Mountain Iron-Buhl 50, Sleepy Eye 31

The Indians were making their first state tournament appearance. It showed from the outset.

Mountain Iron-Buhl, which finished third in last year's state tournament, blitzed Sleepy Eye with the first 11 points in the opening 2 minutes, 26 seconds. The Indians (19-11) could never recover as both teams struggled from the floor the rest of the way.

"We wanted to come out with the attitude that we had been here before," Rangers coach Jeff Buffetta said. "Our girls came out with that attitude, and it was vital to our success."

The sixth-ranked Rangers (30-1) held an eight-point lead at halftime at 25-17 despite only shooting 33 percent from the field. Sleepy Eye only made three field goals in the first half, shooting 19 percent.

Junior center Kathy Ostman, 2 inches taller than any player on the Indians' roster, led Mountain Iron-Buhl with 13 points. Teammates sophomores Allie Knuti and Sarah Overbye each added 10 points.

"Our defensive performance was awesome," Ostman said. "We kept applying the pressure all game."

Ada-Borup 67, Minneota 63

The ninth-ranked Cougars (27-2) are going to run and run some more with coach Dave Smart at the helm. The No. 7 Vikings (29-2) matched them stride for stride until Megan Kolness stepped out beyond the arc.

Kolness made three three-pointers in the second half, including two in a just over a minute that stretched a one-point lead to seven with 13 minutes remaining. The Cougars maintained a four- to 12-point lead the rest of the way.

"Megan has that capability," Smart said. "She really stepped up for us, and she had to."

Kolness scored 16 of her game-high 25 points in the second half. She didn't miss a shot, going 7-for-7 (4-for-4 from three-point range) from the field and the free-throw line. Teammate Taylor Kujava, the team's usual leading scorer, was plagued by foul trouble and finished with 16 points.

Minneota freshman forward Taylor Reiss scored a game-high 27 points on 12-for-18 shooting. She also had 17 rebounds before fouling out.

"She was awfully tough," Smart said. "She got from block to block so quick, and I don't think our kids realized they had to go that fast."

There were seven ties and 12 lead changes in the opening half, which ended in a 33-33 deadlock.

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