MINNEAPOLIS -- The Pequot Lakes Patriots didn't play their best game and that has them happy.
The 30-1 Patriots are happy because, despite not playing their best game, they still advanced to the Class 2A state semifinals against Minnesota Valley Lutheran following a 45-44 victory over Pipestone Area Thursday at Williams Arena.
The fifth-ranked Patriots couldn't break away from the unranked Arrows despite holding them to 29.8 percent shooting from the field.
Pipestone outrebounded Pequot 37-26. It scored 13 points off of 12 Pequot turnovers and had 15 second-chance points compared to Pequot's six. The Arrows finished with 19 offensive rebounds compared to Pequot's eight.
Pequot Lakes guard Flecia Foster's jumper was the winning basket in the Patriots' 45-44 victory over Pipestone Thursday in the Class 2A state tournament quarterfinals at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.
Despite those statistics the Patriots still won.
"We knew they were a young team that played a bunch of sophomores and they did a really good job defensively on us," said senior guard Flecia Foster.
"I was really surprised at how close this game was. We didn't play our best game. I give them complete credit for coming out and playing hard. They'll be a good team in the coming years."
Pequot's defense forced 13 turnovers. Foster added four steals and Teresa Parker added two steals and five blocks.
Pequot forced two turnovers in the final minute to set up Foster's game-winning shot.
"We were just playing man-to-man there at the end," said Nelson. "When you get behind you just try to put a whole lot more pressure on them. We try and make them do that the whole time, but they just don't. We thought we could bother them the whole game and we just weren't doing it. They really played well."
Pipestone sophomore forward Steph Kocourek (24) drove around an airborne Pequot Lakes senior center Teresa Parker and scored a key basket in the waning moments of the Class 2A state quarterfinals at Williams Arena.
Bob Nelson improved his state record to 1-1 with Thursday's victory. Nelson's only other state appearance was with the Pine River-Backus Tigers boys' basketball team, losing to Glencoe-Silver Lake in the state quarterfinals at Hibbing in 2001.
"You just play these games right to the end," said Nelson. "If you win you go on and if you don't you're done. We played the whole game (Thursday) including the last 13 seconds."
The Patriots will play the eighth-ranked Minnesota Valley Lutheran Chargers in the state semifinals 9 p.m. Friday at Target Center. The Chargers eliminated the third-ranked Hawley Nuggets 41-33.
Hawley was the only team to defeat the Patriots during the regular season.
Minnesota Valley owns a 28-1 record, with its one loss coming against Wabasso in the final regular-season game.
"They're big with a couple of big post players," Nelson said of the Chargers. "They play that zone and I think we're just going to have to pass the ball and get some good shots."
jeremy millsop can be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5856.
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