Plenty of eyes were on Caitlin Clark and the Iowa women's basketball team last year, including those of the Maple Grove girls basketball coaching staff.

That's why, when Maple Grove called a timeout with two seconds left in its Class 4A state quarterfinal matchup against Lakeville North, the Crimson players and coaches looked at one another and agreed: "Iowa." Named after the Hawkeyes team that executed the same play in college basketball, it was a new plan Maple Grove walked through that morning, led through the X's and O's by assistant coach Stacie Olson.

One problem: The play hadn't quite clicked at the morning shootaround. Senior Ava Cossette had passed the ball to senior Claire Stern — but off the back of Stern's head.

"We were like, 'Oh boy, this is going to be good,' " Maple Grove head coach Mark Cook said. "But, of course, in the moment they executed it perfectly."

Down by a point with Maple Grove's first-ever state semifinal appearance on the line, Cossette made a long inbounds pass to Stern, who streaked into the paint for a buzzer-beating layup and a 56-55 Maple Grove victory. The Maple Grove bench burst to its feet, players jumping and hugging as assistant coach John Leyse picked up Cook in celebration.

Maple Grove's game-winner, involving simple tactics executed perfectly and timed better than that, is the Star Tribune's All-Metro Sports Awards Play of the Year.

The play called for junior All-Metro first-team selection Jordan Ode — who led Maple Grove with 16 points and had been defended tightly on previous inbounds plays — to set a screen to allow Stern to break free from the Lakeville North defense. The lobbed pass from Cossette cleared all five of the Panthers defenders. They rushed to the basket, but the winning layup had already left Stern's right hand.

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Cook said the players came into the final timeout already asking, "We're going to run Iowa, right?" and knowing the player matchup would work.

"The fun thing about this team is that their basketball IQ was so, so high," Cook said. "As much as you're coaching them, you're coaching with them. They earned that respect from us as staff."