By Jake Schroer
Crow River News Sports
Friday was a night of celebration for the STMA Lady Knights basketball team as it defeated Elk River in the Section 8AAAA title game.
St. Johns University was the site of the Knights’ latest triumph. It proved to be a huge evening for two prominent younger players on the roster; freshman Rae Johnson (29 points) and sophomore Sydney Tracy (25 points). Whenever the Knights needed a big basket, they got the ball to those girls.
A very physical game meant lots of fouls and several trips to the charity stripe for both teams; STMA attempted 42 free throws during the contest. It also meant a very even game, with neither team staking a huge advantage in the half. The Elks took the lead just before halftime and held a 36-35 advantage going to halftime.
The Knights stormed out of the gates and took a five point lead early in the second half. Johnson recorded a four point play during the action, but the Elks kept it close throughout the half. The highly competitive game ended with the Knights headed to state and the Elks seeing a solid section tournament run end.
Coach Kent Hamre said getting to state is a goal every year at STMA. He said his team likes the St. John’s gym because of continued success. He was also pleased with beating a quality team like Elk River twice in one season.
“Even at halftime when we got down, they weren’t rattled at all. They just knew that, you know what, this is our game still, and they stayed positive through it, and it was just a lot of fun.”
Tracy and Johnson, who combined for 54 of STMA’s 75 points, knew how big the moment was.
“We were mentally ready. We knew it was gonna be a tough game,” Johnson said.
“We’re very excited for state. We’re not really focused on ourselves, but more as a team, as a whole, and what we can do in state,” Tracy said.
Hamre said the Knights would find out their state quarterfinal matchup the next morning.
“We’re gonna enjoy tonight; tomorrow it starts again.”
The Knights learned on Saturday they would face Bloomington Kennedy in the state quarterfinals at the Target Center. The Knights faced the Eagles Tuesday. The winner plays in the semifinal round on Thursday.