Seeded 2nd in section
By Bruce Strand
Elk River Star News
Courtney McClay became the third Rogers player to hit a game-winning 3-point shot this season as the Royals nipped the Monticello Magic 56-53 on Friday night in the conference finale.
The Royals, who led 35-18 at halftime only to see the Magic catch up late in the game, had the ball for the last 24 seconds. They worked it around until McClay, deep in the corner on the baseline, got a pass from Taylor Anderson and let fly with under a second remaining.
McClay knocked it down and the Royals finished the regular season 17-9 overall and 7-3 in the Mississippi 8.
“The buzzer went off, but they (referees) said there was seven-tenths of a second left,” said Rogers coach Karlee Anderson.
The Royals beat Staples-Motley 49-48 on a 3-pointer plus a free shot by Anderson with :03 left. They beat Buffalo 41-38 on Rachel Sharp’s 3-pointer at the horn.
“We have had different girls step up all year,” said coach Karlee Anderson. “You never know which one it will be.”
McClay, senior forward, also hit a 3-pointer in the first half and the Royals had seven in the game. Taylor Paulsrud scored 13 points, Lindsey Dorn nine, and McClay, Marina Nowak and Kelsey Frain eight each.
Monticello’s Grace Sawatzke scored 19 points and Gabby Laimer hit 17 including five 3-pointers.
The Royals and Magic tied for second place with 7-3 records behind St. Michael-Albertville.
Monticello is 21-5 overall and handed STMA its lone conference loss, but the Royals beat the Magic twice (49-37 earlier).
Rogers had the big first-half lead with sharp shooting, good ball movement and an effective 2-3 zone. Monticello roared back with fine shooting of their own and numerous Rogers turnovers.
Rogers was seeded second and Elk River third in the Section 8AAAA tournament and each will open with a home game Tuesday.
The pairings are:
–No. 8 Brainerd (4-21) at No. 1 St. Michael-Albertville (20-5)
–No. 5 Buffalo (9-16) at No. 4 St. Cloud Tech (16-10)
–No. 7 Bemidji (8-17) at No. 2 Rogers (17-9),
–No. 6 Moorhead (7-16) at No. 3 Elk River (14-12), all at 7 p.m.
In a vote of coaches, Rogers was seeded ahead of the Elks despite losing to them 58-51. The Highway 101 neighbors would have a semifinal rematch if they both win.
Semifinals are slated for 6 and 8 p.m. Saturday at St. Cloud State University, with finals the following Friday at St. John’s University, 6 p.m.
Top-seeded STMA has beaten Rogers twice in conference play 54-37 and 52-51 and the Elks 57-49 in a non-conference game.