MINNEAPOLIS -- Whoever said the third time is a charm forgot to tell the participants in the girls' basketball state tournament.
Minneapolis North and Blake failed in their bids to be the first team since New York Mills in 1977-79 to win three state titles in a row and Eastview, the Cinderella team playing in the finals in the school's third year of existence also lost its title bid.
But there was no shortage of thrills at the 2000 tournament. Fans saw blowouts, dominating individual performances, old hands winning and a game decided on a blocked shot at the final buzzer.
In Class 4A, Osseo ended Eastview's unexpected trip through the tournament winning 80-53 behind a gutty performance by Hana Peljto.
Peljto, who will play at Harvard next year, had sprained both her ankles in the past two weeks, but she still turned in 34 points and 18 rebounds in 26 minutes.
''She just ignores the pain and plays,'' said Orioles coach Dave Thorpe. ''The pain that she can endure is amazing.''
Speaking of amazing, Eastview shocked many by making it to the state tournament. The Lightning was 7-16 two years ago and 14-10 last season.
Eastview coach Paul Goetz insisted his team deserved to be in the finals, although he acknowledged it was an unexpected position.
''Our girls are a little bummed out,'' Goetz said. ''At a couple of the timeouts, I told them they have to be proud of their efforts and accomplishments.''
The Class 3A final was the tournament's most thrilling game. Minneapolis North's hopes were dashed when New Prague center Randie Wirt blocked the tying shot at the buzzer to give the Trojans a 64-62 win.
Wirt scored 19 points and had eight rebounds in a perfect night. She was 6-for-6 from the field and hit all seven of her free-throw attempts.
In addition to the Wirt's block, it was the little things that propelled New Prague over the Polars, such as free throws. Morgan Proshek hit a pair with six seconds to go to put the Trojans up 64-62.
''It just felt great. I knew I'd make them,'' Proshek said. ''I love shooting free throws.''
New Prague's title was the school's first. North has been in the finals in each of the last four seasons and the Polars were of the stakes.
''We wanted to three-peat, make history,'' said North coach Faith Johnson-Patterson. ''But as far as I'm concerned it was great to be here. We're relying on a lot of young players.''
Eighth-grader Mia Johnson may have been North's best player against the Trojans, although her inexperience showed at times. She had 18 points but turned the ball over eight times.
A familiar face was on the bench in the Class 2A championship. Myron Glass watched his third-ranked Rochester Lourdes team win the championship for the sixth time during his tenure.
Glass has coached a record 10 teams in the big dance. This year the Eagles beat up on Sibley East 57-25. Lourdes never trailed and was led by Monica Hake, who had 19 points.
It was Lourdes' 20th win in a row and Glass said this year's championship may have been his most enjoyable since the Eagles weren't expected to make it to Williams Arena.
Once they made it to Minneapolis with a 46-35 win over Hayfield, Glass said he discussed Lourdes' rich tradition with his players.
''We told the kids, we get in the finals (and) we haven't lost yet,'' Glass said. ''We don't want to break that record.''
It's not as though Sibley East expected a cakewalk, but the Wolverines looked stunned after the game.
''We had hoped they wouldn't shoot quite as well as they did,'' said Sibley East coach Steve Schmitz. ''They're an excellent team.''
Lourdes' semifinal win over Blake was less than the stellar matchup that was expected. Lourdes won 50-35 and held Blake's best player, 6-foot-5 center Kate Bauman to just 13 points.
Blake coach Lea Favor sounded unsure of whether her team even deserved to win even though the Bears had two Division I signees (Bauman will play at Iowa State and Kristin Ambrose is going to Virginia).
''Unfortunately, there are times when we take things for granted, because we have the size,'' she said. ''Our fundamentals seemed to be checked at the door.''
In the Class A final, the players from the state's smallest schools played one of the most physical games of the tournament as No. 4 Fosston beat Minnesota Valley Lutheran 64-50.
It was the 20th straight win for the Greyhounds, who got a career-high 30 points from freshman Kelly Roysland.
Fosston coach Rochelle Horn summed up the mood of her players, fans and supporters.
''This is just crazy,'' she said. ''It's unbelievable.''
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