Minneapolis Washburn didn’t look like a team lacking state tournament experience. The Millers were poised enough to get the ball in the hands of junior standout Chase Coley at crunch time.
Coley made four consecutive free throws 28 seconds apart with the score tied in the final two minutes, and the Millers went on to beat Sauk Centre 64-58 in the Class 2A quarterfinals on Wednesday night at Williams Arena. Minneapolis Washburn (23-7) is making its first state tournament appearance since 1984.
“I was nervous going to the free-throw line,” said Coley, who stepped to line with 1 minute, 25 seconds left and the score even at 56. “The past couple of games my free-throw percentage was really bad. I’ve been going to the YMCA with my teammates to practice them.”
Coley, who scored a game-high 28 points, increased the Millers’ cushion to 60-56 with two more free throws with 57 seconds remaining. She then made sure Sauk Centre (27-3) didn’t get closer than four points the rest of the way on the defensive end. The 6-3 forward had two defensive rebounds and a blocked shot after her tie- breaking free throws.
“This was a huge win for our program,” said Coley, who finished with a triple-double. She also had 11 rebounds and 11 blocked shots. “This is way more than we expected. We keep setting goals, and accomplishing them.”
Coley showed how multi- dimensional she can be from the outset. In the opening five minutes, she scored on a driving righthanded layup, switched to her left for another close-range bucket and then stepped outside to bury a three-pointer.
Coley acknowledges she doesn’t mind being the focal point of the offense, but she prefers getting her teammates involved. Sophomore guard Lucia Renikoff was the only other Washburn player in double figures with 10 points.
Senior forwards Macy Weller and Brianna VonWahlde each had 14 points for Sauk Centre, last year’s Class 2A runner-up to Providence Academy.
Patience pays for Providence
Providence Academy 33, Pine Island 22: Pine Island coach Rick Canton expected a patient Providence Academy team to shorten the game.
“We thought that was to our advantage,” Canton said.
But failing to make good on a limited number of scoring opportunities doomed the Panthers.
Defending champion Providence Academy of Plymouth built a 18-12 halftime edge and slowed the pace for much of the game.
Senior point guard Leah Szabla hit four of the Lions’ seven baskets and led all scorers with 19 points.
Canton said his team chose to pack it in defensively and not challenge Providence Academy (25-4) on the perimeter for fear of surrendering easy layups. Even so, the Lions’ patience surprised him.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a team that really did not want to shoot the ball,” Canton said.