After two double-digit losses to Stillwater in the regular season, White Bear Lake looked like the better team in the first half and led 30-28.

But No. 1-seeded Stillwater (26-2) outscored the Bears 33-17 in the second half en route to a 61-47 victory in the Class 4A, Section 4 final Thursday at Hastings High School.

"My girls were playing cautious the first half," Stillwater coach Willie Taylor said. "Came out second half more aggressive, and pushed the tempo of the game."

The Ponies took a 31-30 lead in the first 1:30 played in the second half. Then senior guard Sara Scalia hit back-to-back three-pointers, and the Ponies never let the Bears regain the lead for the rest of the game. It will be Stillwater's first trip to the state tournament since 1988.

"I just knew we had to step it up a little bit, and I started knocking down my shots," said Scalia, who led Stillwater with 26 points. Scalia was the first commitment of Lindsay Whalen's when she was named Gophers coach.

White Bear Lake (16-13) held a 21-13 lead midway through the first half. Stillwater struggled shooting early on, and the Bears held a lead for most of the first half. Bears senior guard Courtney Crouch ended with a team-high 16 points.

"Holding them to 60 was kind of our goal, we just kind of stopped scoring at the end," White Bear Lake coach Jeremy Post said. "They got really aggressive on defense, and played really hard, and that's a good team."

Jack Warrick