Here’s a look at the teams in tonight’s Class AA state girls basketball championship game between fifth-seeded Lincoln and third-seeded Mitchell in Rapid City, 9 p.m. CT (8 p.m. MT).
Title game appearance: 1984, 1986, 1989
State titles: None
Road to the championship: Roosevelt, W 41-37; Aberdeen Central, W 50-48
Starters (tournament stats)
Cera Ledbetter: 11-22 FG, 14-19 FT, 36 pts, 19 reb, 9 blk
Darby Hugunin: 8-28 FG, 18 pts, 12 reb
Ellie Brecht: 10-18 FG, 21 pts, 5 reb
Mica Standing Soldier: 1-7 FG, 3 pts, 7 reb
Shelby Merritt: 1-5, 3 pts, 4 stl
Offense: 36% shooting, 45.5 ppg
Defense: 31% shooting, 42.5 ppg
Patriots win if…
1) They can get to the free throw line. Ledbetter has closed out each of the Pats wins at the line, scoring six straight against Roosevelt and the game-winners against Aberdeen Central. At the same time, Lincoln can’t afford for their primetime post to get in foul trouble.
2) They can keep up the defensive pressure. Lincoln held the Riders to 14 percent shooting in the first half, then used its speed to disrupt the Eagles’ ability to get set with a bigger lineup.
3) Someone other than Ledbetter to has a big game. Ledbetter has been the cornerstone for the tournament success thus far with Brecht stepping up against Roosevelt and Hugunin having a nice all-around performance against Aberdeen Central.
Title game appearances: 1977 (A), 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2000, 2003, 2012
State titles: 1990, 1992, 1994, 2003, 2012
Road to the championship: Rapid City Central, W 54-43; Washington, W 46-37
Starters (tournament stats)
Macy Miller: 13-23 FG, 8-10 FT, 35 pts, 14 reb, 5 stl
Kerri Young: 5-13 FG, 8-9 FT, 18, pts, 15 reb, 11 ast, 3 stl
Kristin Sabers: 12-19 FG, 30 pts, 12 reb
Megan Farnham: 4-8 FG, 11 pts, 3stl
Courtney Moore: 1-3 FG, 4 pts, 7 reb
Offense: 41% shooting, 50 ppg
Defense: 29% shooting, 40 ppg
Kernels win if…
1) Miller can duplicate her performance on Friday night against Washington. The junior matched the Warriors trip-for-trip in a rematch of last year’s title game. She’s been the catalyst for Mitchell all season, averaging 19.6 ppg on 51% shooting while leading the team with 69 steals.
2) They can keep up the energy. After jumping out to an 11-point lead on Rapid City Central in the first round, Mitchell let the Cobblers chip their way back into the game before pulling away in the fourth. The Kernels did a better job against Washington, but there was a lot of emphasis on the matchup and taking Lincoln lightly could be a mistake.
3) Sabers continues to surge. The senior averaged 8.8 ppg on 39% shooting during the season, but has scored 15 in each tournament game while firing at a 63 % clip.
Prediction: I took the Pats to knock off Roosevelt in the first round, then switched gears on my original pick of Aberdeen Central in the semis hours before game time. As much as I’d like to ride the Lincoln bandwagon until the end, I’m not sure the Patriots have an answer for Miller-Young-Sabers. Kernels 54, Patriots 45
* The Lincoln student section has evolved over the last 48 hours. Throughout the first half of the Patriots’ tournament opener against Roosevelt consisted of four students. By the end of the game, another group of red and white had joined in the form of Rapid City Central students. For Friday’s contest against Aberdeen Central, Roosevelt apparel had found its way into the Lincoln fold. Should be interesting to see who else joins the Lincoln plight tonight. By the way, the Patriots should take home the Spirit of Six award this weekend.
*Speaking of awards, the Sprit of Su chase has to be down to:
-Cera Ledbetter, Lincoln: 18 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 4.5 bpg, 50% FG
-Emma Hanson, Washington: 19 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 65% FG
-Kristin Sabers, Mitchell: 15 ppg, 6 rpg, 63% FG
-Kerri Young, Mitchell: 9 ppg, 5.5 apg, 1.5 spg
Note: The Spirit of Su recipient has only played in the championship game three times (1995, 2000, 2003).