Menahga played the state's No. 7-ranked Class A girls basketball team even in the second half of Tuesday night's Section 5A semifinal game at Crosby.
The first half was an entirely different story.
Bailey Gronner hit four of Cromwell's nine 3-pointers in the first half as the No. 1-seeded Cardinals claimed a 48-10 lead at the half. Both teams scored 30 points after the break as Cromwell advanced to the section championship game to face Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa.
Gronner finished with six 3-pointers and a game-high 22 points while Taya Hakamaki (16), Shaily Hakamaki (13) and Chelsea Swatek (10) also hit double figures for the Cardinals, who made 15 3-pointers in the game. Cromwell, which defeated the Braves 82-63 in the second game of the season, improved to 22-4.
Lindsay Hendrickson scored 14 points and Alyssa Peterson added 11 points for the Braves, who were the No. 2 seed in the North half of the bracket. Menahga ended the season with a 23-6 record.
MENAHGA: An. Lake 1, M. Hendrickson 8, Ahlf 6, L. Hendrickson 14, A. Peterson 11.
CROMWELL: Ta. Hakamaki 16, S. Hakamaki 13, Jokinen 1, Te. Hakamaki 9, Gronner 22, Lehti 7, Swatek 10.
Halftime: Cromwell 48, Menahga 10.
Braves defeat PR-B
Cierra Ahlf and Megan Hendrickson tallied double-doubles as the Braves eliminated Pine River-Backus from the section playoffs with a 58-43 victory at Crosby on March 4.
Ahlf had 24 points and 10 rebounds while Megan Hendrickson chipped in 13 points and 13 rebounds for Menahga, which led 23-21 at the half. Peterson also hit double figures with 13 points while Tara Hendrickson had eight rebounds and seven assists.
Bailey Wynn scored 16 points and Shelby Adkins had 12 points for the No. 3-seeded Tigers, who ended the season with a 22-6 record.
"I was really proud of the mental toughness that the girls showed in a tough environment. Not a lot of things went our way in the first half and our youth and inexperience really showed," said Menahga head coach Cody Pulju. "In the second half, the girls quickly adjusted to the physicality and aggressiveness of Pine River and really calmed down on offense and got some good looks. I was really proud of the way the girls stayed tough and were able to quickly learn and adjust mid-game. It was a great win for our program that we will hopefully be able to build off."
MENAHGA: Ahlf 8 4-6 24, A. Peterson 5 3-4 13, M. Hendrickson 5 3-4 13, L. Hendrickson 4 0-0 8, T. Hendrickson 0 0-0 0, Schwartz 0 0-0 0, Al. Lake 0 0-0 0, M. Peterson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22 for 50 (FG), 10 for 14 (FT).
Halftime: Menahga 23, PR-B 21. Three-pointers: Ahlf 4. Rebounds: Menahga 43 (M. Hendrickson 13, Ahlf 10, T. Hendrickson 8, L. Hendrickson 3, A. Peterson 2, Schwartz 1). Assists: Menahga 18 (T. Hendrickson 7, A. Peterson 3, M. Hendrickson 2, L. Hendrickson 2, Schwartz 2, Ahlf 1, M. Peterson 1). Steals: Menahga 9 (Ahlf 2, A. Peterson 2, Schwartz 2, M. Hendrickson 1, Al. Lake 1, M. Peterson 1). Team fouls: Menahga 21. Turnovers: Menahga 23.
Braves roll in opener
Peterson's 22 points led the way as the Braves defeated No. 7 McGregor 62-22 in the first round of the section playoffs March 2 at Menahga.
Lindsay Hendrickson (12) and Megan Hendrickson (11) also hit double figures in scoring while Ahlf (8), Martha Peterson (3), Tara Hendrickson (2), Annie Lake (2), Alayna Lake (1) and Annika Aho (1) rounded out the scoring for Menahga.
McGregor ended the season with a 14-14 record.
"It was good to get the first playoff win and the nerves out of the way," said Pulju. "It was good to get a lot of girls court time in a playoff atmosphere. We got off to a slow start and didn't shoot well, but we played good, solid defense, which led to some easy baskets."