Top-seeded Park Center trailed at halftime and throughout much of the game Thursday night against Centennial. The Pirates missed a few three-pointers and didn't get their first second-half field goal until nearly seven minutes in.
Luckily for them, senior captain Ann Simonet made five three-pointers. Her final one came with 4 minutes, 45 seconds left in the game to put her team up for good on the way to a 53-46 victory over the Cougars in the Class 4A, Section 5 girls' basketball championship game at Anoka High School.
"I felt our momentum going down, and once I hit that three, I just felt everyone's energies just pick up," Simonet said. "And I knew right then, there was a turning moment."
She led her team with 15 points while senior Mikayla Hayes had 10. The Pirates (24-5) are on a 14-game winning streak.
They knew this would be a close game, Pirates coach Chris VanderHyde said. "It's like a boxing match," she said. "You've got to keep slugging at each other. We kept slugging. We didn't fall down."
The Pirates are headed back to the state tournament for the fourth consecutive year. They won back-to-back Class 3A titles in 2014 and 2015 before moving to Class 4A last season, when they lost in the state quarterfinals.
Cougars senior captain Sarah Grow led her team with 13 points. Centennial led 26-23 at halftime. .