Sarah Lavell hit four three-pointers in the first half to stake Centennial to a slim halftime lead, then stepped aside and let the rest of the Cougars shine in a 74-64 victory over Maple Grove in the Class 4A quarterfinals.

Centennial coach Jill Becken said it's not unusual for Lavell, a 5-11 senior center, to be among the team's best outside shooters in practice, but admitted her hot hand in the first half Wednesday was a pleasant surprise.

"At halftime, one of the coaches said if Lavell's not hitting threes, we're not in this right now," Becken said. "I asked her what she had for breakfast because she needs to have that again tomorrow."

Lavell said she felt good during warmups at Williams Arena and decided to go with that feeling once the game started.

"I just thought, 'Why not?' the first time and kept saying that the whole game," said Lavell, who had 19 points.

The Cougars' depth showed up in the second half. Guard Taylor McAulay scored 16 of her 22 points after halftime, including six consecutive during a 12-3 run for Centennial (26-4) that turned a one-point lead into a 65-55 advantage.

McAulay said the Cougars' strong first-half shooting, including six three-pointers, helped them locate their game in the second half.

"That helped a lot," she said. "We knew we had to shoot well to win."

That McAulay, who will play at Division I Drake next season, looked more like her usual self in the second half was important to the final result, Becken said.

"I think she was really nervous at first," Becken said. "We need the ball in her hands to get things going because she does such wonderful things."

Abby Schulte had 17 points for Maple Grove (23-7).

Jim Paulsen