Maranatha savors title won with defense

  • Article by: DAVID LA VAQUE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 20, 2012 - 11:26 PM

Maranatha's Alaina Jarnot and Mikayla Payne celebrated the Mustangs' Class A championship win. Bruce Bisping/Star Tribune

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

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Before he addressed the assembled media, Maranatha Christian Academy girls' basketball coach Jim Hammond used all 10 minutes -- and then some -- of the required "cool down" time after the Mustangs won their second straight Class 1A title.

It was clear he did not use that time to study the final stat sheet. Asked to describe how his team managed to defeat Mountain Iron-Buhl 49-37 despite being outrebounded by 20, Hammond wrinkled his nose and snapped his head down in shame.

"Is that what happened? I don't want to hear that," he said. "That happened last year, too. Double-digit rebounding deficits [in two of] three games. To God be the glory. How else do you explain that?"

Good defense is a start.

The Mustangs forced 24 Rangers turnovers -- 15 in the first half -- and turned them into 17 points. Junior Onye Osemenam had five of Maranatha's six blocks compared to none for Mountain Iron-Buhl.

Osemenam and her teammates didn't have their best performance shooting -- just 33 percent for the game and held to their lowest total point output of the season -- but they were all smiles afterward. Osemenam was even able to laugh off a fumbled free-throw attempt during the first half, a gaffe she redeemed by making the final two buckets of the game -- from the line.

"I'd like to know what happened on that [first] one," she said. "I am so thankful to the Lord I was able to make the last two."

Prairie Seeds off to state

Prairie Seeds Academy, located in Brooklyn Park, is making its debut in the Class 1A boys' basketball state tournament.

The No. 3 Lycans (23-2) open play against Rushford-Peterson (24-5) at 5 p.m. Thursday at Williams Arena.

The Lycans are led by Trent Pollard, who averaged 23.1 points per game in the regular season. He was joined by Devin Buckley (16.1), Gage Deis (14.8) and Dominick Jackson (10.9) in double digits.

Prairie Seeds broke the single-game scoring record with a 165-37 victory over Math and Science Academy of Woodbury on Jan. 6.

David La Vaque • 612-673-7574

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