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Apr. 10—MINNEAPOLIS — Down by 16 with 11 minutes remaining in the season, there was nothing left to lose for Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa.

With that frame of mind, the Jaguars turned a 40-24 deficit into a one-point game in the final seven seconds against the top team in Class A.

But the hole was too deep for the Jaguars to climb out of. Minneota won its third state championship with a 48-45 victory Friday at the Target Center.

“The girls, all year, played with heart and we never gave up,” BBE head coach Kristina Anderson said, with some tears between words. “I’ve been so proud of this crew. I’m proud of their hearts and effort.”

The state championship appeared to be on the verge of a blowout as the Vikings’ Abby Rost scored a layup in transition to put the team up 40-24 with 11:30 to play. At that point, Minneota (25-0) was shooting 5-for-8 to open the second half while BBE was 2-for-10 in that same stretch.

The Vikings also benefited greatly from strong outside shooting, going 6 of 15 from 3-point range, compared to 1 of 12 for the Jaguars.

The outside shooters were 4 of 9 from 3-point range as Minneota built a 28-18 halftime lead.

“We know we got some 3-point shooters and anybody I got on the floor, they have the green light,” said Minneota head coach Chad Johnston. “As good as a job as BBE does pinching things in and making it difficult to get to the rim, we got to be ready to pull the trigger.”

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Despite the deep hole, the Jaguars’ defense facilitated the comeback. After Rost’s layup, BBE (23-2) held the Vikings without a field goal for 9 minutes, 48 seconds.

“The second half is where we do our best,” said Jaguars senior forward Allisa Knight. “We wanted to come out on defense good so our offense could produce.

“We wanted to win the game, bottom line.”

Karissa Jones started the comeback effort with two free throws, followed by a layup. A pair of Abby Berge free throws dropped the deficit to single digits, 41-32, with 6:45 to play.

Then with 1:09 to go, Josie Knutson hit the Jaguars’ first 3-pointer of the game to cut Minneota’s lead to 43-41.

“They were definitely surprised,” Jones said about the Jaguars’ rally. “When they beat teams, other teams kind of give up. We were fighting back and I think they were surprised by that.”

Anderson added: “With Minneota playing with that lead, they got tight, too. We were able to capitalize on that. It definitely started with our full-court press and some of that trapping pressure. We were able to get some turnovers and get some buckets to make things interesting.”

With BBE gaining traction, Johnston admits that pressure hurried his players and forced some uncharacteristic mistakes. The Jaguars forced the Vikings into 15 turnovers and had nine steals, led by Knutson’s three.

“We kind of rushed some things,” Johnston said. “We needed to be more patient on offense.”

After Knutson’s three, Minneota responded quickly with a Jeren Rost layup to go up 45-41. The teams traded trips to the free-throw line to make it 46-43. After a timeout, Knutson opted for an uncontested layup to cut Minneota’s lead to 46-45 with seven seconds to go.

“We wanted it so we pushed right at the end,” Jones said. “We went down swinging.”

Unable to get a foul until there was 2.8 seconds remaining, Abby Hennen iced the game with a pair of free throws to put the Vikings ahead by three. With no timeouts, the Jaguars had to throw up a full-court heave that fell well short of the hoop.

“I felt like we were so close and we had the passion to come out and play our hardest,” said Knight, who finished the game with 11 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, said: “Our defense was amazing in the last couple minutes.”

Video Interview: BBE’s Knightrider with Jaguars star Allisa Knight

Johnston added, “Credit to BBE, we knew they were going to crank up their defense at some point. They caught us off-guard changing their press and they turned it into a close ball game.”

Along with Friday’s victory, Minneota also won state championships in 2019 and 2013.

While the Jaguars bid adieu to seven seniors, their impact was vast over the last two seasons with back-to-back trips to the state tournament.

“I can’t be any happier or prouder of this team,” said Knight, who’ll resume her playing career in college at Minnesota State-Moorhead. “They’ve proven themselves day in and day out in practices and games. These girls stepped up in bigger moments.”

Said Anderson: “They were just ready to play (this season) and willing to do anything to do that. To have seven seniors like we did was crucial in a year like this. We weren’t going to let this outside noise get in the way. They kept breaking down barriers in BBE basketball and I can’t thank them enough.”

Class A


Minneota 48,

BBE 45

BBE (23-2) 18 27 — 45

Minneota (25-0) 28 20 — 48

BELGRADE-BROOTEN-ELROSA — Scoring: Allisa Knight 11, Josie Knutson 11, Karissa Jones 8, Jackie Lindsay 6, Liz French 4, Abby Berge 3, Karsee Kampsen 2 … 3-point shots: Knutson 1-6, Berge 0-3, Kampsen 0-1, Lindsay 0-1, Harley Roering 0-1 … Rebound leaders: Berge 10, Knight 10 … Assist leader: Knutson 3 … Steal leader: Knutson 3 … Block leader: Knight 4

MINNEOTA — Scoring: Abby Hennen 12, Abby Rost 12, Natalee Rolbiecki 10, McKenna Yost 7, Kennedi Jurrens 4, Jeren Rost 3 … 3-point shots: Rolbiecki 2-3, A. Rost 2-3, Hennen 1-2, Yost 1-2, J. Rost 0-1, Jurrens 0-1, Ireland Stassen 0-1, Mckenzie Tolk 0-2 … Rebound leader: A. Rost 9 … Assist leader: Hennen 5 … Steal leader: Rolbiecki 2 … Block leader: Hennen 2

Girls State Pairings

(at Target Center, Minneapolis)

Class A

Final Friday

Minneota 48, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa 45

Class AA

Final Friday

Albany 57, Providence Academy 43.

Class AAA

Final Friday

Marshall (22-0) vs. Becker (18-3), late

Class AAAA

Final Friday

Chaska (17-0) vs. Rosemount (20-3), late

Boys State Pairings

(at Target Center, Minneapolis)

Class A

Semifinals Wednesday

Hancock 65, Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s 53

Hayfield 79, Badger/Greenbush-Middle River 53

Final Saturday

Hancock (18-5) vs. Hayfield (20-4), 1 p.m.

Class AA

Semifinals Wednesday

Caledonia 60, Minneapolis North 55

Waseca 72, Fergus Falls 58

Final Saturday

Caledonia (23-1) vs. Waseca (22-1, 3 p.m.

Class AAA

Semifinals Thursday

Alexandria 66, Richfield 64

Minnehaha Academy 79, DeLaSalle 58

Final Saturday

Alexandria (22-1) vs. Minnehaha Academy (19-1), 6 p.m.

Class AAAA

Semifinals Thursday

Cretin-Derham Hall 54, Maple Grove 42

Maple Grove (13-9) vs. Cretin-Derham Hall (17-5), late.

Wayzata 72, Shakopee 43

Final Saturday

Cretin-Derham Hall (18-5) vs. Wayzata (18-2), 8 p.m.