ST. CLOUD — For the second straight Section 6-2A final, Kali Peschel proved she is worth the hype and the ticket to the University of Iowa.
The Sauk Centre Mainstreeters’ junior scored 32 points, with 21 coming in the second half, leading to a 78-58 victory Friday against the West Subsection 6-2A champion Staples-Motley Cardinals at St. Cloud State University.
Peschel, who scored 26 points in last year’s section final between the same two teams, hit on 7-of-10 from the field and 4-of-4 from the line in the second half to blow open 28-23 halftime score. The Mainstreeters’ all-time leading scorer added 10 rebounds, two assists, a blocked shot and a steal to her 31 minutes of work.
“She just can score in all areas of the floor,” said Sauk Centre head coach Scot Bergman. “Sometimes we were posting her up, but most of the time we obviously wanted the ball in her hands. They’ve got some great defenders so that’s saying something about her ball-handling skills that she was able to get by them.”
The Mainstreeters outscored S-M 50-35 in the second half as they shot 63 percent from the field and held the Cardinals to 43.5 percent. Sauk Centre doubled up the Cardinals on the boards with 42 rebounds to 21. The Mainstreeters scored 21 points in the paint and scored 19 second-chance points.
“We talked before the game that rebounds were such an important part of the game,” said Bergman. “That was critical Tuesday night when we beat New London-Spicer and it was just as important tonight.”
S-M hit on 6-of-9 from 3-point range in the second half to remain close until Sauk Centre rattled off an 11-4 run to build a 61-44 advantage.
Kelly Pearson led the Cardinals with 15 points. Mackenzie Holst came off the bench to score 11 and Jasmine McGillvray scored eight also coming off the bench. Mikayla wing added seven assists and five points and Jaelin Beachy pulled down six rebounds.
“We gained a lot of confidence this season,” said Pearson. “At the start of the season we were losing a lot of games, but we finally started playing as a team and getting stuff done. I’m ready to be back next year.”
It wasn’t a slow start that hurt the Cardinals this season as they grabbed the first significant lead at 8-2. Sauk Centre recovered with a 9-0 run and led the rest of the first half. But it wasn’t an easy half. The Cardinals forced eight turnovers and turned those into 11 points. They also collected 11 points off of second-chance opportunities. Bobbie Jo Mathe scored six of her seven points off of offensive rebounds to lead the Cardinals’ first half offensive output. She finished with nine points and six rebounds for the game.
But Peschel led all scorers in the fist half with 11 points. They didn’t come easy. The junior all-star shot just 4-of-11 in the opening frame, but added five rebounds as Sauk Centre outrebounded the Cardinals 24-15 in the first.
“We just tried to stop (Peschel),” said Pearson. “She’s a good player and we just wanted to stymie her and try to make the other players to score.
“That first half helped, but we have a lot to work on. The first half we came out pretty good, but the second half we let off a little bit.”
This is the second trip to state for the second -anked Mainstreeters. Last year it was one and done, but Bergman has bigger ideas this time.
“Certainly we like to think that we gained some experiene from last year and it’s not going to be a we’re-just-happy-to-be-there type experience,” said Bergman. “Hopefully we can go down there and play three games.”
Sauk Centre 28 50 — 78
Staples-Motley 23 35 — 58
Krista Primus 4, Maren Greenwaldt 14, Emily Petermeier 7, Kali Peschel 31, Macy Weller 9, Alexis Berscheit 3, Ashley Gruber 2, Shelby Deters 4, Kourtney Nelson 4. FG 26-54 (48.1 percent), FT 17-19 (89.5 percent), 3-point 9-20 (45 percent).
Kelly Pearson 15, Jaelin Beachy 3, Mikayla Wing 5, Abby Smith 3, Jasmine McGillvray 8, Mackenzie Holst 11, Emily Isrealson 2, Marilyn Eagle Tail 2, Bobbie Jo Mathe 9. FG 18-48 (37.5 percent), FT 14-24 (58.3 percent), 3-point 8-16 (50 percent).
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.