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Braves win first game at state tournament

After losing both games in their first appearance at the state Class A tournament last season, the Menahga girls basketball team was determined to win a game in the school's second state trip this season.

Thanks to a pivotal 19-0 run early in the second half, the Braves accomplished that goal with a 65-54 quarterfinal victory over BOLD Thursday (March 14) at Maturi Pavilion on the campus of the University of Minnesota.

Menahga, the No. 3 seed, never trailed to advance to a state semifinal game against No. 2 Goodhue Friday afternoon (March 15) at 2 at Williams Arena. Goodhue edged Mountain Iron-Buhl 50-48 in the quarterfinals. In Thursday's other quarterfinals, No. 1 Minneota defeated Red Lake 66-46 and No. 4 Heritage Christian Academy defeated No. 5 Ada-Borup/Norman County West 67-59. 

The state championship game will be played Saturday (March 16) at noon at Williams Arena while the third-place game will be played Saturday (March 16) at 11 a.m. at Concordia-St. Paul.

Two free throws by Annika Aho, two 3-pointers and a jumper by Alyssa Peterson, a 3-pointer by Cierra Ahlf, and a layup by Tara Hendrickson gave Menahga a 15-8 advantage. A layup and 3-pointer by Ahlf, a layup by Hendrickson, two free throws by Peterson and another 3-pointer by Ahlf extended that lead to 27-17. The Braves carried a 28-19 lead into the half.

BOLD closed the gap to 28-24 to start the second half before the Braves went on the game-clinching 19-0 run. Ahlf started that spurt with a 3-pointer and Aho followed with a three-point play. Peterson hit a 3-pointer and assisted on a layup by Ahlf off a steal. A three-point play by Hendrickson, another 3-pointer by Ahlf and a layup by Peterson gave Menahga a 47-24 advantage.

Three-pointers by Martha Peterson and Aho kept the Braves in front 53-30 before BOLD made a late rally as a 12-0 run cut the gap to 53-42. The Braves were able to hold on for the win as Aho, Greta Hillukka, Alyssa Peterson and Ahlf combined to make 10 free throws down the stretch.

Ahlf posted a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds while Alyssa Peterson added 18 points and Aho finished with 10 points. Alyssa Peterson dished out three assists and Hendrickson had four steals as the Braves improved to 30-1.

Makenna Steffel's 21 points and 12 rebounds and Mikayla Snow's 12 points and eight rebounds led BOLD, which fell to 22-6.

BOLD: Schmitz 3 0-0 7, Steffel 7 7-11 21, Trongard 4 0-1 8, Snow 3 6-9 12, Weis 2 2-3 6. Totals: 19 for 52 (FG), 15 for 24 (FT).

MENAHGA: A. Peterson 5 5-6 18, T. Hendrickson 4 1-5 9, Aho 2 5-7 10, Ahlf 7 2-2 21, Hillukka 0 4-4 4, L. Peterson 0 0-0 0, K. Hendrickson 0 0-0 0, Pinoniemi 0 0-0 0, M. Peterson 1 0-0 3, Tormanen 0 0-0 0, Pfeifer 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 for 52 (FG), 17 for 24 (FT).

Halftime: Menahga 28, BOLD 19. Three-pointers: Schmitz 1, A. Peterson 3, Aho 1, Ahlf 5, M. Peterson 1. Team fouls: BOLD 17, Menahga 18. Fouled out: Steffel, Snow. Rebounds: Menahga 36 (Ahlf 12, Hillukka 5, A. Peterson 3, T. Hendrickson 3, Tormanen 3, K. Hendrickson 2, M. Peterson 2, Aho 1, Pinoniemi 1, Team 4). Assists: Menahga 10 (A. Peterson 3, T. Hendrickson 2, Aho 2, Ahlf ,1 Hillukka 1, Tormanen 1). Steals: Menahga 12 (T. Hendrickson 4, A. Peterson 3, Ahlf 3, Aho 2). Blocked shots: Menahga 2 (Hillukka 1, Tormanen 1). Turnovers: BOLD 20, Menahga 16.