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Star Tribune recap of Pirates victory over Washburn

March 21, 2014
Park Center Girls Basketball

Park Center tops Minneapolis Washburn 63-59, reaches Class 3A championship

McKenna DuBois of Park Center dribbled past Emma Shepherd of Minneapolis Washburn in the Class 3A semifinals on Thursday at Williams Arena. Photo: JERRY HOLT * jerry.holt@startribune.com

None of the members of Park Center’s four-guard rotation —OK, technically three guards and a forward — stand taller than 5-foot-6, but the Pirates’ mighty mites came up big in their 63-59 victory over Minneapolis Washburn on Thursday in the Class 3A semifinals.

The game matched up two of the metro’s best, Cayla McMorris of Park Center and Chase Coley of Washburn. They didn’t disappoint, as McMorris scored 26 points and Coley, the Star Tribune’s Metro Player of the Year, had 25 points and 21 rebounds.

But the two stars essentially cancelled each other out, leaving the game to be decided by supporting casts. Park Center’s roster was better. Six-foot-one freshman center Mikayla Hayes gave Coley fits inside and their four perimeter players – guards Danielle Schaub, Ann Simonet and McKenna DuBois and forward Olivia Peterson -- buzzed around the passing lanes and made nuisances of themselves for the Millers’ offense.

“That’s our job,”said Simonet, who chipped in with 14 points, many of them coming in transition. “To put pressure on their guards and make it hard for them to get the ball inside. Defense creates offense.”

Despite a big first half from Coley (13 points, 12 rebounds), Park Center led at halftime 29-28. At that point, the Pirates had forced nine turnovers and given up just one.

“We have a lot of confidence in those girls,” Park Center coach Chris VanderHyde said. “They play defense so well together.”

In the second half, Hayes showed the Williams Arena crowd why the Park Center faithful are so excited about potential. She scored six of their first 10 points, going right at Coley, a shot-blocking menace. The Pirates extended their lead to 39-32 and never gave it back.

“Mikayla is a special kind of player,” VanderHyde said. “She was huge.”

Hayes also made the defensive play of the game. With Washburn trailing by four with 11 seconds left in the second half, she stepped up and blocked a potential layup by the Millers’ Natalie Holdahl.

“That was just instinct,” said Hayes, who finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds. “I had to make sure they didn’t score.”

Making its first state tournament appearance, Park Center is one victory away from a state championship.

“This has been such a special season. It’s like a family,” he said. “We’ve had our ups and downs,  but whoever we play, we’re going to be tough to beat.”

First report

The match-up between superstars Cayla McMorris of Park Center and Chase Coley of Minneapolis Washburn was pretty much a wash, so the Class 3A semifinal on Thursday came down to the supporting cast.

In this case, Park Center’s proved superior.

Freshman post Mikayla Hayes scored 13 points and 14 rebounds while the Pirates’ four-guard rotation of Danielle Schaub, Ann Simonet, Olivia Anderson and McKenna DuBois created havoc on the perimeter, leading No. 1-seeded Park Center past Washburn 63-59.

The Wisconsin-bound McMorris finished with 26 points while Coley, who will play at Iowa next year, had 25 points and 21 rebounds.

The Pirates, making their first state tournament appearance, will play for the Class 3A championship at 6 p.m. Saturday against either Fergus Falls or Marshall.

Check back later for more on the game.

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