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Girls Basketball: On their way to Class AAA state tourney, Simley ends Hill-Murray's season
Simley 64 - Hill-Murray 52
In the semifinals of Section 4AAA girls basketball playoffs, the Simley Spartans closed out Hill-Murray with some talented offense and a torrid defense.
This was the third meeting this season for the two Classic Suburban Conference foes. Simley claimed the "rubber match' with a convincing 64-52 final at Washington High School in St. Paul on Tuesday, March 11.
In the previous two meetings the teams split in regular season conference play.
"Our defense played well," Simley head coach Tim Peper said. "That has been the case for us all season. We work hard in practice and the seniors on our team don't want our season to be over."
Asked whom he preferred to play in the finals of the section (between Red Wing and New Prague) for the right to claim a berth in the state tournament, Peper smiled and said, "We played New Prague (in the first game of the season and lost 47-50) once this season. I don't want to play either one. They both are good teams, but the good thing is we get to play one of them."
The Spartans played New Prague‚ a 65-45 winner over the Wingers, on March 14 and earned a trip to "State" with a 63-48 triumph over the Trojans.
Spartans showed poise
From the Hill-Murray point of view, head coach Erin Herman said, "We knew they would be tough on defense. We just couldn't get our offense going. I thought we rebounded wel,l but we had too many turnovers, and they converted them into points. We just didn't take care of the ball."
In the turnover department the Pioneers gave the ball up 20 times to 11 for the Spartans.
The game began well for the Pioneers as they jumped to an early lead of 12-6.
But the Spartans fought back and in the last four minutes, and went on a 14-4 run to close out the first half with a 26-19 leeway at the horn.
The big run seemed to propel the Spartans as the second session got under way. Simley slowly built on its lead and at near the end of the third quarter led by 16 at 46-30.
The Pioneers fought hard to get back into the contest and narrowed the gap to under 10 points on a couple of occasions, but the Spartans played with poise to the final horn and the 12-point 64-52 triumph.
The Spartans were 17-of-22 (77 percent) from the free-throw line, while the Pioneers were 11-of-12 (90 percent).
Producing points in the losing cause for Hill-Murray were Lindsey Malecha 22, Ellie Schwartz 9, Sami Schneider 7, Olivia Graskewicz 6, McKenzie Lindahl 4 and Allison Angeli 4.
For the triumphant Spartans, leading with a game-high 25 was 6-foot-1 Abby Kain, who was followed by Kylie Brown 14, Katie Atkins 12, Maya DeLao 10 and Anna Scheffley 3.
Hill-Murray finished the season with a record of 18-10. They were 12-2 in conference action.
With the victory over New Prague, the Simley Spartans will carry a 21-7 mark into the Class AAA state tournament against Park Center at Target Center on Tuesday, March 18.