Just 1 minute and 19 seconds into the Class 3A quarterfinal between New Prague and Kasson-Mantorville on Wednesday, trainers helped KoMets senior guard Cori Kennedy off the floor and kept the second-leading scorer in program history from putting weight on her left leg.
Kennedy would not return, bad news for an already decided underdog. No. 3 seed New Prague (24-5) defeated the KoMets by 18 points in late January. Kasson-Mantorville (29-2) rallied, however, for a 62-55 victory at Mariucci Arena.
"It's hard to have her go down, but we all had to pick it up," junior guard Maddie Worden said. "We knew we had to do it for her."
Worden made the game's decisive play. After she missed two free throws, Worden gathered the offensive rebound, missed the shot, grabbed a second rebound and scored. Kasson-Mantorville extended its lead to 60-55 with 39 seconds left.
"No one was going after it so I thought, 'Might as well go pick it up,' " said Worden, who finished with 10 points.
Sophomore center Kristin Scott led the KoMets with 23 points. Senior guard Taylor Miller added 10 points.
Kennedy, whom coach Ryan Haraldson lauded as the KoMets' "heart and soul," watched from a chair behind the team bench.
She encouraged teammates to "keep it up, stay calm," Worden said.
Park Center 72, Richfield 57: What Park Center lacked in height against Richfield, the Pirates made up for in hustle in defeating the Spartans. The Pirates started just one player taller than 5-5 but didn't sell themselves short.
"They're a big team, but we ran them," sophomore guard Ann Simonet said. "We knew that's what we had to do."
Richfield, boasting three starters 5-10 or taller, got a strong performance from Kyla Adams. She scored 18 points and grabbed 18 rebounds.
But the Spartans did not dominate inside. No. 2 seed Park Center (23-7) scored two more points in the paint and grabbed one fewer rebound. The Pirates made life difficult on Richfield by forcing 21 turnovers.
"They're just scrappy kids," Pirates coach Chris VanderHyde said.
Sophomore forward Mikayla Hayes maintained her role as what VanderHyde called "the center point of our offense." She led Park Center with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Simonet added nine points, seven rebounds and a team-high four steals.
Park Center's confidence overcame the moxie shown by a Richfield (15-15) team that reached the state tournament despite a sub-.500 regular-season record. Spartans coach Kesha Ross Bradford said her girls "played their hearts out. But we weren't in a good rhythm today."