Apr. 7—MINNEAPOLIS — Thanks to the fundamentals, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa is finals bound.
With senior Josie Knutson going 3-for-4 at the free-throw line in a 12-second span, the Jaguars took a two-possession lead over Sleepy Eye St. Mary's with 9.6 seconds to go in Tuesday's Minnesota Class A state semifinals.
The Knights' Madison Mathiowetz drilled a 3-pointer with two seconds left. But with no timeouts, the clock ran down to zero, giving BBE the 51-50 victory at the Target Center.
"It was pretty exciting," Knutson said about hitting the game-clinching free throws. "Pretty nerve-wracking, too.
"It felt pretty good knowing that I contributed."
The Jaguars are headed to the state championship game for the first time in program history.
"We knew we were going to win," said senior forward Allisa Knight. "We wanted to win more. It's super exciting to know we're going to a state championship."
They will face Minneota for the state championship after the Vikings defeated Mountain Iron-Buhl on Tuesday, 54-53. The title game will be at 1 p.m. Friday back at the Target Center.
BBE and Minneota met in the regular season, with the Vikings winning the Feb. 20 matchup, 42-38.
"It's the rematch that we wanted," said Jaguars head coach Kristina Anderson.
The clutch free throws capped off a stellar second half off the bench by Knutson. Eleven of her 13 points came in the final 18 minutes. After SESM opened the half with six straight points by Mathiowetz, Knutson stopped that momentum swing with back-to-back 3-pointers to put BBE ahead 30-28.
"She was huge for us; There's nothing more I can say about the way she played," Anderson said of Knutson. "That's a girl that shows up day in and day out and works her butt off on defense. She's also hit some big threes this year and none bigger than today. She's very deserving of everything she's been doing."
Knutson added about the key threes, "It felt good to finally get going."
While the offense struggled mightily, shooting 25.8% from the field, the Jaguars' free-throw shooting kept the championship hopes alive. BBE was 16 of 26 from the stripe, including 13 of 19 in the second half. Comparatively, the Knights were 8 of 10 from the line in the entire game.
"That's been kind of an up-and-down part of our game," Anderson said. "To step up on that stage and knock those down was pretty awesome.
In the battle of Class A's top offense versus top defense, the Jaguars' defense prevailed, holding SESM to 29.2 percent shooting. Mathiowetz, who came into the game averaging 33.5 points per game, was held to 23 points on 10 of 25 shooting.
Video Interview: BBE's Knightrider with Jaguars star Allisa Knight
"She had to work for everything today, with (Abby) Berge and (Karsee) Kampsen guarding her and our help-side defense meeting her at the paint," Anderson said about guarding Mathiowetz.
Anderson added, "This was more of a defensive battle, and one you had to grind out. I'm really proud of our girls for hanging in there on defense."
Reagan Severson and Sydney Windschitl both had 10 points for the Knights.
Allisa Knight finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks for BBE.
"Let's bring it home," Knight said. "We want revenge against Minneota. There's no bigger stage for it."
Class A semifinals
SESM (23-1) 22 28— 50
BBE (23-1) 24 27— 51
SLEEPY EYE ST. MARY'S — Scoring: Madison Mathiowetz 23, Reagan Severson 10, Sydney Windschitl 10, Emma Currans 3, Katelyn Rutscher 2, Sophie Portner 2 ... 3-point shots: Severson 2-6, Currans 1-4, Mathiowetz 1-5, Windschitl 0-3 ... Rebound leader: Liz Schwint 15, Mathiowetz 7, Rutscher 7 ... Assist leader: Mathiowetz 3 ... Steal leader: Windschitl 3 ... Block leader: Windschitl 2, Schwint 2
BELGRADE-BROOTEN-ELROSA — Scoring: Allisa Knight 15, Josie Knutson 13, Abby Berge 7, Karissa Jones 6, Jackie Lindsay 4, Harley Roering 3, Karsee Kampsen 2, Liz French 1 ... 3-point shots: Knutson 2-5, Roering 1-2, Berge 0-4, Kampsen 0-3, Lindsay 0-1 ... Rebound leader: Knight 10, Berge 10, French 7 ... Assist leader: Berge 3 ... Steal leader: Berge 3 ... Block leader: Knight 4