State champ MCA
escapes at the buzzer
Tuesday, March 20, 2012 7:49 AM
The Maranatha Christian Academy Mustangs of Brooklyn Park come from the north side of the metro area. They were the 2011 state champions and brought a record of 26-5 to the fray.
Addison Cross fights for possession at the Target Center in a state semi-final sandwich between two Mustangs from Maranatha Christian.
Spring Grove came just short of derailing top-ranked MCA, which went on the next day to claim its second straight state championship. The final score was Spring Grove 61, MCA 65.
The game ended with a controversial non-call. Down by two points with 4 seconds to play, Spring Grove's Randi Mehus in transition put up a 20-foot 3-point shot that was blocked and rebounded by 6-2 All-Tournament Onye Osemenam.
Mehus and every Lion believed Mehus had been fouled, but the only whistle came as two Lions converged on Osemenam at the buzzer.
While the officials studied the video, fans - from both sides- were in an uproar while watching the replay on the big screen, unaware of what was being discussed.
But the officials' only question was whether or not the Spring Grove foul had come before the final buzzer.
A half second was put back on the clock, and Osemenam sank two free throws to create the final four-point margin
Spring Grove never led but sliced a 13-point deficit down to one point - first at 58-57 with a Cheyenne Moen rebound basket with 2:33 on the clock and again at 60-59 with a Nicole Ellingson put back with 58 seconds to play.
The first of two All-Tournament Alexis Long free throws made it 61-59. The second throw bounced away, but Osemenam scored with the rebound to make it a four-point, two-possession dilemma for the Lions with 0:27 on the clock.
Two Richell Mehus free throws made it a two-point game at 0:14. Two missed Mustang free throws gave Spring Grove one last chance, but the final game-deciding three-point effort - block or foul - would not go in Spring Grove's favor.
Typical of a sub-standard Spring Grove shooting afternoon, the Lions hit only one of their final eight shots from the field. The Lions' 29 percent from the field was their second lowest of the season. Meanwhile, MCA hit a tournament record-breaking dozen three-pointers. Spring Grove was down 58-48 before a nine-point run set up the frantic and confusing finish.
Burdened with two fouls in the first three minutes, KFIL-Radio Player of the Game Richell Mehus still had Lion highs with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 6 steals. Taylor Elton added 16 points and 9 rebounds.
Ellingson, the KFIL Game Ball winner, put in 8 points and made several all-out defensive efforts. Nikki Hanson and Randi Mehus scored 5 points each while Addison Cross put in 4 and Moen 2.
Hansen had 3 assists, Moen 2 and Michaela Neuzil one - all without a turnover.
Spring Grove outrebounded the taller foe 47 to 44 with 5 boards apiece from Cross and Randi Mehus while Hansen grabbed 4.
The Lions gave up six inches on the post to Osemenam who scored 12 points along with 17 rebounds and 5 blocked shots.
For the Mustangs, All-Tournament Madison Lee hit 6 of 11 triples for her team-high 18 points
It would be the closest MCA (28-5) would come to a tourney defeat following an 18-point win in the quarterfinals and preceding a 12-point victory in the championship game.
After the game, John Millea, media specialist at the Minnesota State High School League, quoted Coach Russell Larson as he spoke about his team's first-ever appearance in the state tourney.
"To get so close and not get there (in recent years); this group of girls has worked so hard and they've been on these teams that have come so close," Larson said.