Toward the end of their season, the Simley Spartan regrouped and, rolling with momentum, tore through the Section 4AAA girls basketball finals to gain their third trip to the State Girls Class AAA Basketball classic.
Then, by the luck of the draw — five teams are seeded and three are randomly selected for opponents — the Spartans drew the number one seed Park Center as a 6 p.m., March 18 opponent at the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis.
Simley put up a game battle in the first 18 minutes of play but then saw their efforts fall by the wayside as the Park Center Pirates stole the second-half show.
Two different games
Simley got off to and early 10-4 lead and never relinquished their leeway as play progressed through the first half of play. They broke for halftime on top 30-26.
But whatever happened in the Park Center locker room sent the Pirates out with new resolve to prove their top seeding was no fluke.
Just 3:05 into the second half, a Pirate steal and a 3-pointer gave them their first lead at 34-33.
The Spartans fought back with a 3-point bucket by Maria Paulsen and retook the edge at 40-38.
But then the Park Center defense stiffened and slowly carved out a wider margin.
When the Spartans began to foul to get back in the contest, the Pirates made the free throws down the stretch to gradually pull away and increase their margin until the final 15-point difference at 68-53.
Leading Simley in the losing effort with a 14-point performance was Kylie Brown. She was followed by Paulsen 12, Abby Kain 12, Maya DeLao 10, Katie Atkins 3 and Anna Scheffley 2.
The loss ended the Simley season with an overall mark of 23-8.