MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The only way Winona figured it had a chance to beat powerful Minneapolis North was to work its deliberate offense to perfection.
It almost worked.
The Polars were satisfied to wait out the Winhawks, forcing 24 turnovers to win the Class 3A Minnesota girl's basketball semifinal 35-27. North struggled through its own shooting woes to qualify for the finals for the sixth time since 1997.
North (27-2), which came into the semifinals at Williams Arena averaging 75 points per game, managed to hit just 9 of 33 shots against Winona's match-up zone.
"When shots aren't falling, you have to get your hands up in their faces on defense and play it out, keep plugging away," said Faith Buchanan, who led North with 13 points.
Winona (16-11) made just 10 of 24 shots, but trailed by just five at 32-27 on Jessica Stoltz' free throws with 2:53 left.
"I think our locker room was the only one in the state that thought this game would be played out the way it did," said Winona coach Mark Winter. "We tried to be patient and slow, and I don't think our defense could have done any better."
Mia Johnson added 10 points for North. Leigh Rodgers led Winona with nine points.
North goes for its third state championship Saturday at 6:30 p.m., playing Duluth East, which toughed out a 48-45 win over Prior Lake in the second Class AAA semifinal game at Williams Arena.
"It will be very exciting to play North," said Erica Quigley, who led Duluth East with 18 points. "We have to jump out on them in the first quarter. We always thought about playing them in the end."
Duluth East used good defense down the stretch in their semifinal win, holding Prior Lake scoreless in the final 1:49.
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