Girls basketball: K-W escapes from P-E-M with 1AA crown

Kenyon Wanamingo's Audra Clark leaps into the arms of Emily Ashland as the Knights celebrate their Section 1AA championship game victory against Plainview-Elgin-Millville Thursday night at the Mayo Civic Center Arena.

When Brent Lurken and his Kenyon-Wanamingo girls basketball team first learned they were being moved from Section Two to Section One beginning this season, their first reaction was relief.

"We were happy we'd be getting away from NRHEG (New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva)," Lurken said of the unbeaten and No. 1-ranked defending Class AA state champion.

"But once we really looked at what we were up against in Section One, we knew it was going to be a really tough row to hoe."

It wasn't easy, but Lurken's No. 2-ranked Knights were able to cultivate a trip to state with a 46-42 victory against Plainview-Elgin-Millville in the Section 1AA championship game Thursday night at Mayo Civic Center Arena.

Siri Sviggum made two free throws with 9.6 seconds remaining to seal K-W's first trip to state since the Knights won back-to-back Section 1A crowns in 2000 and 2001.


P-E-M had drawn within two points on a Karli Gilbeck 3-pointer with 20 seconds left, and then the Bulldogs got a turnover right away, with a chance to tie or win. But a missed shot sailed out of bounds with 11 seconds left, and with it went P-E-M's last chance at victory.

"I don't know how to explain it; I just have a bunch of emotions about to explode," said K-W senior guard Audra Clark, who led the balanced Knights with 12 points.

"All of us really saw us getting to state," Clark said. "Confidence and teamwork, that's what got us there."

K-W (29-1) takes a 20-game win streak into the Class AA state tournament beginning Wednesday at Mariucci Arena. P-E-M, under coach Jason Melbostad, was after its first trip to state and finished 25-5.

• The Section 1A championship game at Mayo Arena was not nearly as suspenseful as No. 1-ranked Goodhue built a 20-point lead by halftime and rolled to a 75-38 victory against unranked Rushford-Peterson.

Goodhue's tough defense forced most of R-P's 30 turnovers in the game, and Goodhue senior guard Mikayla Miller scored 17 of her game-high 21 in the first half.

It's Goodhue's fifth section title and fourth in six years under head coach Josh Wieme.

Goodhue (25-5) should get the top seed in the Class A state tournament which begins Thursday at Mariucci Arena. R-P, under second-year coach Terry Pelzl, ended 23-5 and was trying to get back to state for the first time since consecutive trips in 2007 and '08.


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