Rolbiecki leads Vikings into state final
Natalee Rolbiecki scored the final 19 of Minneota's points in the second half to lead the Vikings to a 53-45 triumph over previously unbeaten Hayfield in the Class A semifinals Friday at Williams Arena.
The senior forward sank 12 of 20 shots and finished with a game-high 29 points, to go along with four rebounds and two assists. She had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds in the state opener.
"It was motivation knowing they hadn't lost a game this year," said Rolbiecki after the game. "And we got motivation from beating the top seed (Mt. Iron-Buhl) yesterday (in the quarterfinals)."
Unseeded Minneota (28-4) will play No. 3 Hancock in Saturday's championship game at noon at Williams Arena.
Mayer Lutheran and Hayfield will play for third place at 11 a.m. Saturday at Concordia University. Nevis and Mt. Iron-Buhl meet for the consolatioj championship at 9 a.m. Saturday at Concordia University.
The Vikings rallied from an 11-points deficit in the quarterfinals to win in overtime. In this game, they trailed most of the first half, including another 11-point hole at 26-15.
Minneota had 11 turnovers in the first half before cleaning things up in the second half, turning the ball over only twice over the final 18 minutes.
Minneota (both team's nickname is Vikings) dominated the boards by a 38-24 margin, often leading to several offensive putbacks.
Hayfield took its last lead at 37-36 on a free throw from Chelsea Christopherson. Rolbiecki then took over. Her three-point play with 9:21 left in the game gave Minneota the lead for good.
Rolbiecki then splashed consective triples to for a 47-42 lead.
Hayfield tried to rally back, but lost both Watson and Aine Stasko, their top two scorers, to fouls two seconds apart at 1:37 and 1:35.
McKenna Chick drained a late three-pointer, but Rolbiecki then scored inside with 1:03 to go, made a steal on Hayfield's ensuing possession, and then capped the scoring with two free throws with 21 seconds left.
McKenzie Tolk had eight points for Minneota, six coming in the first half. Ireland Stassen finished with seven points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals in a solid all-around game. Tolk and Stassen were the only other Minneota players besides Rolbiecki to score in the second half, each getting two points.
See this week's Mascot for more on this game and the state tournament.