Defending state champion Providence Academy plays fast. It had to find yet another gear Saturday, and it did.
The Lions scored the first eight points of the second half, sparked by lightning-quick freshman guard Maddyn Greenway, to gain control in a 74-60 victory over Albany in the Class 2A girls basketball championship game at Williams Arena.
"My guards can go forever," Lions coach Conner Goetz said. "We wanted to put a lot of pressure on their guards. We weren't being effective in the halfcourt."
Albany coach Aaron Boyum had his Huskies in attack mode at the outset, matching the Lions (30-2) step-for-step in the first half. Albany led 33-32 at halftime.
Boyum had no answer for Greenway in the second half. She had a basket and two perfect assists in the early second-half spurt, providing the Lions with a 40-33 lead.
"We aren't used to being down at halftime," Greenway said. "We knew we had to pick it up."
Greenway finished with 31 points, five rebounds, five steals and four assists.
"She is a special player," Boyum said. "She gets up and down the floor and goes. Providence is so explosive in the transition game."
The Lions extended their lead to 19 points, 64-45, with 7 minutes, 16 seconds remaining. Albany didn't get within single digits the rest of the way.
The Huskies (30-2) kept up in the first half thanks to juniors Alyssa Sand (13 first-half points) and Tatum Findley (11).
"They hit us in the mouth," Goetz said.
The 6-3 Sand kept it up and finished with 29 points, 21 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocked shots. Findley didn't score in the second half.
Lions 6-1 senior forward Grace Counts matched Sand's intensity in the second half. She finished with 17 points, 16 rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots.
"I knew Alyssa was killing us," Counts said. "I had to flip the script."
Albany beat Providence Academy for the state title in 2021, and the two teams stood atop Class 2A all of this season. Providence Academy was ranked first in Class 2A in the final Minnesota Basketball News poll, and Albany was ranked second.
"It's been a good battle the two years leading up to this," Boyum said. "It's a fun challenge."