Vikings stopped by Hancock in final

Hancock's tenacious defense and stellar free-throw shooting were too much for Minneota to overcome in the Class A state girls basketball championship Saturday at Williams Arena.

The Owls (30-1) drained 17 of 20 free throws en route to a 54-43 victory over the Vikings (28-5).

Minneota came into the tournament unseeded despite having a strong season. The knocked off top-seeded Mt. Iron-Buhl in the quarterfinals before upending previously unbeaten Hayfield in the semifinals.

The two-time defending state champion Vikings looked like they were on their way to a third straight title (winning in 2019 and 2021; with their state bid denied in 202 due to COVID) after building a 13-2 lead en route to a 19-14 halftime lead.

But the Owls connected on three treys early in the second half and went on a 15-2 run over the two halves for a 26-21 lead they would not relinquish.

Minneota fell behind 36-27 after Rylie Hanson scored the 1,000th point of her career on a layup and then followed with another layup 15 seconds later. Minneota then went on an 11-3 run to cut the deficit to a single point at 39-38 with 4:19 remaining.

Hancock held firm and did not give up the lead and cashed four consecutive free throws for a 43-38 advantage.

McKenna Yost, who led the Vikings with 17 points, fired in her fifth three-pointer of the game to make it 43-41.

Hancock hit its final 10 free-throw attempts to seal the victory.

Jeren Rost had 12 points for the Vikings, while Natalee Rolbiecki and Ireland Stassen had five points each, and McKenzie Tolk and Kennedi Jurrens each had two points. Tolk also made six assists.

Kaitlyn Rohloff led Hancock with 16 points. Rylee Hanson had 13 points and Misti Zempel 11.

All-tournament: Three Minneota players were among the 10 named to the Class A All-Tournament team. Natalee Rolbiecki, McKenna Yost and Ireland Stassen were joined on the team by Hancock's Carlee Hanson, Karleigh Rohloff, Kaitlyn Rohloff and Rylee Hanson. Also named was Jordan Zubich of Mt. Iron-Buhl, Kristen Watson of Hayfield and Emma Lade of Mayer Lutheran.

Read this week's Mascot for more on the tournament, including photos and business support ads.

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