Brandon Valley just wasn’t going to be denied.
A senior-led Lynx squad avenged one of its four losses this season with a convincing 60-40 victory over Sioux Falls Lincoln on Saturday at Barnett Arena to claim the state Class AA girls basketball championship.
For senior guard Trinity Law, the state title culminated many years of taking the court with the same teammates who were beside her when the final buzzer sounded to bring Brandon Valley only its second state girls championship and its first since 2011.
“I'm crying happy tears,” a smiling Law said, fanning her face. “We’ve been playing together since fifth grade. We know how to play. I’m happy for everyone of my teammates. I couldn't be happier.”
“This has been a goal since they were little,” Lynx coach Mark Stadem said. “They’ve been through a lot, and this is what they've really wanted.”
Lincoln ran into the perfect storm in a Brandon Valley squad that dictated play from the opening tip.
On the defensive end, the Lynx kept the Patriots leading scorer, Morgan Hansen, in check for much of the night.
Once Brandon Valley got the ball in its hands, the Lynx executed their offense with deadly precision. Stadem’s squad shared the ball throughout the game, resulting in equal parts sharp 3-point shooting from Lauren Wells, Ashley Wells and Danica Kocer and an inside presence from Hannah Behrens and Hailey Pieper.
The driving force behind the Lynx’s efforts was Law, who finished with 17 points and six rebounds, a night after foul troubles limited her minutes in Brandon Valley’s semifinal win over Mitchell.
“Trinity was pretty juiced,” Stadem said. “She’s such a competitor. She's the kind of kid who rises to the occasion, and she did just that.”
With the Lynx clicking at both ends of the floor, Lincoln struggled to keep pace. Brandon Valley jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead and used a 12-1 advantage in the second quarter to take control of the contest. The Lynx went into halftime up 33-19 after leading 15-11 at the first quarter break.
“They put incredible ball pressure on our point guard right out of the gates, and we didn't handle the pressure incredibly well,” Patriots head coach Matt Daly said. “It was tough to get into our offense. With the ball pressure, we weren't getting to our spots. We weren't moving at all like we normally do. And we just didn't have the quickness to beat them back door.”
Brandon Valley again hit the floor at full speed to start the second half. Ashley Wells hit a basket then a 3-pointer and Pieper followed with a short jumper to push the Lynx lead to 40-20 with 5:22 to play in the third quarter.
At the other end, Wells continued to hold Hansen in check while the rest of the Lynx swarmed around the floor to contest any looks Lincoln got at the basket. The Patriots hit only 12 of 47 shots — a 25.5 percent clip — and 7 of 20 3-point attempts for the game.
“I told the girls, ‘We’re built for this; we’re built for a three-day tournament. We have to have a bunch of you step up, and you guys got to trust each other. We have to play together,’” Stadem said. “The girls bought into that. And it’s a huge thing.
“It makes for a great brand of basketball to play. It's beautiful when it's played right, and they executed that tonight.”
Daly was left wondering how to weather the play of the Lynx, who turned the ball over only seven times despite pushing tempo all game and shooting at a 43.5 percent clip overall. He said it didn’t help that the Patriots expended so much during its hard-fought win over Harrisburg in the semfinals Friday.
“We were gassed,” Daly said. “We played man, and we couldn't keep the ball in front of us. We brought pressure, and they’d find an open shooter. We’d try to trap and chase, but we didn't have legs so they’d find the open spot and then make you hurt with a 3-pointer.”
Lincoln got no closer than 15 points when Emma Osmundson tallied a traditional 3-point play at the 2:58 mark of the fourth quarter. The Lynx countered by hitting 5 of 6 free throws to push the lead back to 20 points with 1:17 to go.
Ashley Wells finished with 14 points and Lauren Wells had 10 for the Lynx, who had nine players score in the title game.
Osmundson finished with 13 points. Hansen had 12 points despite taking just four shots from the field, and she finished 3 of 3 from beyond the 3-point arc.