State update: Vikings advance

Despite less-than-stellar shooting through the first two-thirds of the game, the Minneota Vikings overcame a five-point second-half deficit to defeat Bethlehem Academy, 47-44, to claim a spot in the Class A championship game.

Minneota will play Ada Borup in the finals at noon Saturday.

The Vikings started cold in the second half as BA built a 24-19 lead, but Minneota quickly regained the advantage at 27-24 with 12:51 left with an 8-0 run sparked by three baskets from sophomore Taylor Reiss. Two more baskets by Reiss and one by Emily Stienessen gave the Vikings their largest lead at 35-28 with 7:05 to go.

BA pulled to within one at 36-35 but basket by Reiss and back-to-back buckets by Stienessen built the Vikings’ lead to seven at 42-35, leading to a BA timeout.

The Vikings used a long offensive possession to draw the clock down before BA committed a foul, and then another to send Megan Larson to the line. Larson made two to give Minneota a 44-37 cushion with 1:11 to play.

BA scored three straight to make it 44-40, and the Vikings answered with a free throw by Larson. But BA wouldn’t go away. A three-pointer made it 45-43 with :16.9 left.

Minneota turned it over on its next possession and Taryn Ashley made one of two free throws to cut the lead to one.

Reiss was sent back to the line and made two big free throws to seal the win. Reiss was 2-for-7 from the free throw line up to that point. She finished with 22 points.

Stienessen had 14 points and Megan Larson scored five.

Minneota’s pressure defense helped them build a 17-11 lead in the first half, but both teams got off to a rather slow start in a game that featured a fair share of early missed shots and turnovers.

Stienessen scored the Vikings’ first four points of the game; her three-pointer to open the game was later changed to a two-point field goal. Stienessen’s four early points were followed by seven straight from Reiss, as the Vikings built a 12-9 cushion with 8:37 left in the half.

Reiss, who had a double-double (21 points, 10 rebounds) in Thursday’s quarterfinal win over Mountain Iron-Buhl, picked up her second foul and had to sit with 6:08 left in the half.