Trio of Big Nine Girls Basketball Teams Advance to Section Title Games
The Big Nine Conference has three teams in section title games on Thursday, with a guarantee of at least one making it to the state tournament.
No. 4 Winona and No. 7 Northfield will go head-to-head in the Section 1AAA final at 6PM Thursday, March 9, at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester. The teams split during the regular season. Northfield (22-6) won the first meeting 61-43 and Winona (23-4) won the rematch 58-51, part of a current 10-game winning streak that lifted the Winhawks into a share of the conference title. Winona is the defending section champ and returns most of that lineup. The top-seeded Winhawks reached the title game with a 71-46 win over Byron. The third-seeded Raiders topped Kasson-Mantorville 50-44 on Saturday night.
Big Nine co-champ and second seed Rochester Mayo (22-6) had a bumpy start to their Section 1AAAA semifinal with Lakeville South (11-17) and trailed by nine points midway through the first half. The No. 17 Spartans rallied to go ahead 24-23 by halftime and outscored the Cougars 32-9 in the second half, according to the Rochester Post Bulletin. Mayo faces No. 3 Lakeville North (26-2) in the finals at 8PM Thursday, March 9, at the Civic Center. Top-seeded North beat Farmington 69-49 in the semifinals.
Two other Big Nine teams lost in the semifinals of Section 2AAA Saturday. Faribault (15-13) fell 55-44 to No. 13 New Ulm at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter. The Falcons rallied from an 11-point first-half deficit to take a brief lead in the second half 32-28. A 13-2 run by the Falcons bridged halftime. The Eagles came right back with a 6-0 run and didn't trail again. Faribault senior Elana Palmer scored 17 points with about seven rebounds. FHS junior Lauren Isaacson added 12 points and about 10 rebounds. Madison Rendler is the Falcons' only other senior. New Ulm's Meleah Reinhart, one of the top scorers in the state, led the Eagles with 22 points despite battling foul trouble most of the night.
Top-seed Waseca edged Mankato West in the other semifinal 46-42. The No. 12 Blue Jays (22-6) face New Ulm (23-5) at 7PM Thursday, March 9, at Gustavus.