Members of No. 3-seeded Winona said they drew the Class 3A state tournament's toughest random draw in DeLaSalle.
Much of the Class 3A quarterfinal game proved the Winhawks correct. But they prevailed 64-59 in a game Wednesday at Mariucci Arena that saw the teams tied on five occasions and separated by just two points with 1 minute, 43 seconds to play.
"DeLaSalle is really tough," Winona senior guard Maria Appicelli said. "They are really good with their press and it kind of rattled us and made us turn over the ball."
The Islanders (18-11) feasted off Winona miscues and scored 22 of their 32 first-half points off turnovers.
"We gathered ourselves and went back out there with a game plan of making a lot less turnovers," Winona senior guard Eden Nibbelink said.
Smarter possessions and strong rebounding by Winona (25-4) turned the tide. A 22-10 advantage in second-chance points helped keep the Winhawks ahead by as many as nine points after halftime.
"In the second half we weren't making plays on offense and then we gave up some easy baskets," DeLaSalle coach Tanysha Scott said.
Appicelli scored a big basket with a high degree of difficulty. Catching a quick pass from Nibbelink, she shot before her momentum carried her past the backboard. It gave Winona a 61-57 lead with 1:27 to go and DeLaSalle got no closer.
Holy Angels 64, Waseca 47: The defending state champions made good on their Stars nickname.
Destinee Oberg, the focus of Waseca's defense, struggled to score but every time the Bluejays looked up, they saw other Holy Angels players shine. The Stars' victory was fueled by three starters scoring more than their season averages and a 17-2 advantage in bench points.
Oberg's seven points were fewer than half her season average, but balanced scoring and tough defense kept the No. 2-seeded Stars in control.
"We try to play inside-out so if we can get it into our post we will, but we also have shooters who can knock down shots at big times," said senior guard Megan Thompson, whose 16 points led Holy Angels, a school located in Richfield.
The Stars' press defense caused problems for state tournament newcomer Waseca (23-7). Holy Angels (26-3) scored 23 points off turnovers.
"They played their press really well and we didn't handle it as well as we could have," Waseca senior guard Emily Karsten said. "Our normal press break is calm and we get up the floor, but they make other teams more frantic and it worked well against us."