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Pirates advance to their 1st State Tournament

March 15, 2014
Park Center Girls Basketball

Recap from MN Girls Basketball Hub:


There is no secret to Park Center's success.

Everybody in the building knows who the go-to-person is, especially in the big game.

Except it was not looking good early for Pirates' senior guard Cayla McMorris.

She only had two points heading into the closing minutes of the first half on Friday against third-seeded DeLaSalle.

Before the two teams adjourned for the first half intermission McMorris found her groove, scoring six points in the final minute en route to 20 for the night in the top-seeded Pirates' 52-34 win in the Class 3A, Section 3 championship game.

"I think she was a little nervous," Pirates coach Chris VanderHyde said. "But she got it going late in the first, and I really think that was big for her."

McMorris differed with the notion of nerves playing a role. For her it was just getting a few shots to fall to get her involved in the game.

"I just had to find my rhythm," she said. "I know I can take any of them one-on-one, so I just had to get a few to fall late in the first half."

McMorris was more aggressive in the second half with relentless drives to the basket, which also opened up opportunities to pull up for open shots while DeLaSalle's defense caved in to protect the drive.

"We ran a few iso plays for her," VanderHyde said. "That opened it up for her, and she took advantage in a big way for us."

In the closing minutes of the second half McMorris nailed a 3-pointer, her only one of the night, which sealed the trip to state. She followed that with a blocked shot that sent the student into a frenzy.

It was one of several big defensive plays she made, but the defense as a whole for Park Center was ferocious.

It only allowed 13 points in the second half and put to rest any doubt of a comeback.

"Our defense was good all game, but we were really good in the second," VanderHyde said. "We played with a lot more intensity."

"We just had to be better on the glass with rebounds," McMorris said. "And on their shots, we had to get a hand up on them. Once we did that, we played a lot better with our team defense."

Mikayla Hayes and McKenna DuBois chipped in with 10 and 11 points respectively for Park Center.

DeLaSalle's Camryn Speese had 10 to lead the Islanders.

The Pirates head to the state tournament next week, a trip that has eluded them for years thanks to the Islanders.

"It feels so good to beat them to go there," McMorris said. "Words just can't describe how happy I am right now."

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