St. Paul Central entered its girls basketball section semifinal against Roseville on Saturday with a better record but a lower seed. The Minutemen left East Ridge High School with an even better record than the Raiders and something even more important: A berth in the section final.
Central seemed determined to show right from the start that it deserved the higher seed. The Minutemen jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead, weathered a brief run midway through the first half and rolled to a 68-50 victory.
The win sends Central to the Section 4AAAA title game on Thursday at 7 p.m. at East Ridge. Awaiting the Minutemen is top-seeded White Bear Lake, a 52-45 winner over fifth-seeded Stillwater on Saturday.
Central employed a tough “in-your-face” defensive pressure that Roseville seemed hesitant to attack. The Raiders managed just one field goal while Central built an early 18-4 lead.
Anita McCoy drained her second three-pointer to start Roseville on a 12-2 run that made the score 20-16 in favor of Central. The Minutemen responded with a 9-1 run of their own to restore a 12-point cushion and regain control for good. Roseville would get to within nine points a few minutes later and once early in the second half but would never really threaten Central again.
Central employed a three-pronged offensive attack. Chelcie Kizart led all scorers with 18 and was joined in double figures by teammates Asiya Smith (15) and Jada Jones (12).
Monica Burich led Roseville with 16 points but none of them came easy. McCoy finished with a dozen before fouling out with five minutes to play.
Brian Meyers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Section 4AAAA girls basketball playoffs