One was almost a guaranteed lock. The other a bit of a surprise.
The Crookston Pirates are Class 2A's top-ranked and West Subsection 8's top-seeded girls' basketball team.
The Pequot Lakes Patriots finished the regular season unranked and were the second seed in the East Subsection.
Those two squads will square off 7 p.m. Friday at the Bemidji High School for the section title.
The Pirates were upset in last year's section playoffs after finishing second in the 2005-06 state tournament.
Crookston enters with a 27-1 record. The Pirates' only loss was a one-point defeat to Fargo Shanley Dec. 13. Since then, Crookston has rattled off 25 straight victories and has outscored opponents by more than 30 points (82.8 to 51.3)
"They have 13 seniors on their roster so I would say experience and depth are their strengths," said Pequot head coach Bob Nelson. "They shoot well from the outside. They shoot a lot of 3-pointers and shoot them from anywhere."
Crookston has five players averaging in double figures, led by Kamille Wahlen's 19.3 points per game. She has 522 points for the season.
Senior center Taylor Davis is averaging 12.1 points followed by senior guard Molly Simmons' 11.3, senior guard Sydney Epema's 10.5 and senior forward Macy Hanson's 10.3.
Crookston starts out early, outscoring opponents 44.6 to 24.9 in the first half. As a team the Pirates are hitting 38 percent from 3-point range.
"I don't think we're going to surprise anybody with what we're going to do," said Nelson. "We'll do some of the same stuff we've been doing. I think we have to do it better than we have done before."
Nelson said his team is playing good defense and the offense has been adequate. The Patriots have outscored opponents 63-55, are riding a five-game win streak and have won nine of their last 10 games. This has taken place after Pequot dropped five of six and four straight to end January.
"I think we've been working more as a team and we're actually really close as a team and we were able to attack through that stretch," said senior point guard Robin Soukup. "It just happened. We all came together and decided that was it."
Soukup has stepped up her scoring in the subsection tournament, leading the team in that category against Pine River-Backus and reaching double figures against Warroad in the East Subsection final.
Pequot Lakes vs. Crookston
What: Section 8-2A final
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Bemidji State University
At stake: A trip to the Class 2A state tournament
Pequot has been led by perimeter players Mindy Howard and Emily Lueck for most of the season. Seniors Katie Finn and Madison Engen patrol the paint for Pequot, which enters with a 22-7 record.
"We are extremely excited to be in the game this Friday against Pequot Lakes," said Crookston head coach Kris Evje. "They are a tremendous team and extremely well-coached. We will have to play our best game of the season to have a chance to win. Hopefully our girls can respond to the challenge. It should be a fun atmosphere."
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.
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