Senior guard LeAnn Jerzak began the season in Minneota's starting lineup before Vikings coach Chad Johnston switched her to a role coming off the bench.
"She has sparked us many times," Johnston said. "I think she is more relaxed coming off the bench. We always say she's going to make something happen when she gets in the game."
On Thursday, Jerzak scored 12 points in the second half — 10 during an 18-1 run by the Vikings — to help Minneota rally for a 69-68 victory over Browerville in the Class 1A quarterfinals at Mariucci Arena.
The Vikings (28-4), who have reached the championship game the past two years, trailed 51-40 with 13 minutes, 45 seconds remaining. The Vikings pulled within 51-46 with 11:22 left before Jerzak, who was averaging only 3.5 points per game, made consecutive field goals to get the Vikings within 51-50.
With the score tied 52-52, Jerzak hit back-to-back three-point field goals to give the Vikings a 58-52 lead.
"She really hit some key shots for us," Johnston said.
The Tigers (28-2) regrouped to take a 66-65 lead with 1:22 left. Meghan Travis' field goal with 55 seconds left and two free throws by Jerzak with 15 seconds remaining gave the Vikings a 69-66 lead.
Paige Callahan made two free throws with four seconds left to get the Tigers within 69-68.
After Minneota missed the front end of a 1-and-1, the Tigers missed a shot at the buzzer.
Emily Stienessen scored 23 to lead the Vikings. Jerzak had 14.
Quinn Kircher scored 25 and Crystal Pearson scored 18 to lead the Tigers.
Maranatha 65, Stephen-Argyle 50: Push, push, push. Don't ever walk.
That's the credo Maranatha used to average 87 points per game this season and earn its sixth consecutive state tournament berth.
Despite a cold shooting day, that approach worked again for the top-seeded Mustangs (28-3) in their victory over the Storm (23-6).
The Mustangs, who outscored opponents by an average of 27 points per game this year, jumped out to early 19-2 lead and appeared to be on their way to another blowout. But the Storm went on a 17-0 run to pull within six points early in the second half.
"I wasn't really [concerned]," said Mustangs senior guard Lexi Lee, who scored 18 points and had six steals. "I just made sure to tell my teammates to push harder and get back to [playing] up-tempo."
The Mustangs' trapping full-court press never relented and forced the Storm into 28 turnovers.
After losing in the quarterfinals the past two years, the Mustangs want to keep pushing.
"We don't want to lose," Lee said. "The feeling that we had last year. We talk about how that felt and we don't want to feel that feeling again. So that's our motivation."
Ada-Borup 71, Springfield 53: Good teams find ways to win. Even when they find themselves in an early hole.
"Second half, we played pretty well," Ada-Borup coach David Smart said. "First half, turned the ball over too many times. … Inexplicable turnovers."
No. 2 seed Ada-Borup kept its undefeated record unblemished, moving to 30-0, with a win over Springfield (24-5). The Cougars are looking for their first title since 2009.
As the Cougars tried to take control of the fast-paced game, the Tigers kept up the rest of the half and hit a short jumper just before the buzzer. Ada-Borup went into the locker room with a slim 38-33 lead.
The halftime discussion for the Cougars? Turnovers, of course.
"It was definitely a point of contention," Smart said.
Their troubles quickly disappeared. Ada-Borup opened the second half with a 17-6 run. Senior Miki Lee led the scoring for the Cougars with 21 points. She was also 7-for-7 from the free-throw line. Junior Morgan Miller had 15 points and was also perfect from the line (3-for-3).
Sophomore Vishe Rabb led the scoring for Springfield with 24 points and six rebounds. Senior Joeli Arnoldi added 12 points, five assists and three steals.
Lyle/Austin Pacelli 66, Mountain Iron-Buhl 47: Lyle/Austin Pacelli is making its first trip to the state tournament in over 30 years count, as the unseeded Athletics upset third-seeded Mountain Iron-Buhl.
This is the first tournament appearance for Lyle. Austin Pacelli last played in the state tournament in 1981. The Athletics (26-3) led from start to finish and were up on Mountain Iron-Buhl (28-3) by as many as 23 points.
"We came out and played really, really well," Lyle/Austin Pacelli coach Justin Morris said. "I think we made a statement that we belong here."
Lyle/Austin Pacelli dominated the glass in the game, winning the rebounding battle 36-15, including grabbing 15 offensive rebounds — many of which they converted into easy layups and three-point plays. The Athletics' "twin towers" of senior center Madison Truckenmiller and junior forward Sarah Holtz each had double-doubles and combined for 31 points and 22 rebounds.
"Throughout the year we've actually struggled boxing out and being physical," Truckenmiller said, "but since the playoffs started, we've been pushing it and it's helping out."
Four different players scored in double figures for Lyle/Austin Pacelli, led by Truckenmiller's 16 points.
Lyle/Austin Pacelli takes on No. 2 seed Ada-Borup on Friday at Williams Arena.
"This is kind of unreal," Truckenmiller said. "But we earned this. We deserve this."