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Girls Basketball: Patriots knock down free throws in state win over Lake Crystal

Pequot Lakes vs Lake Crystal in the Class 2A State Consolation Semifinals

Pequot Lakes player drives the lane
Maci Martini drives the basket against Lake Crystal in the Class 2A State Consolation Semifinals Thursday, March 17, 2022, at Concordia University in St. Paul.
Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro!
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ST. PAUL — It helps to have a free throw champion.

And Pequot Lakes does in Maci Martini, who is a Knights of Columbus free throw champion.

The junior forward went 14-of-15 from the free throw line and finished with game-high 27 points as the Patriots beat Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial 66-53 in the Class 2A State Consolation Semifinals Thursday, March 17, at Concordia University in St. Paul.

“I just have the same routine for every free throw,” Maci Martini said. “When I was younger I would do a bunch of free throw contests and that put a lot of pressure on me, so now I feel I’m better in the game, so I love getting fouled and going to the free throw line.”

The Patriots went on an 11-0 run in the first half to take a 23-10 lead. Isabel Larson finished with 21 points and had 12 of them in the first half.

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“Izzy is a stud,” Patriots head coach Brian Lempola said. “She is so quick twitched and explodes and gets downhill on defenders fast.”

Pequot Lakes would hold on to a 35-22 into the first half with a big advantage on the rebounds.

“I think it kind of comes from last night,” Lempola said. “Rebounding wasn’t a strength for us last night and tonight we figured that was something we were going to take care of tonight and be better at.”

Pequot Lakes bench cheers
Pequot Lakes bench cheers on its team in the Class 2A State Consolation Semifinals Thursday, March 17, 2022, at Concordia University in St. Paul
Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro!

In a physical game, as a team the Patriots went 24-30 at the free throw line, which helped Pequot Lakes stay in front despite shooting 31% from the field.

“(Maci Martini) is a free throw champ, so I take breaks when she’s at the line,” Lempola said. “I know they are going in. She was awesome at the line and drove the ball really well. Then, when they sagged off of her, she took some nice shots.”

Lake Crystal was led by two guards: Olivia Harazin, who had 24 points, and Lauren Cooper, who had 23.

Cooper led the charge in the first half with 15 points, while Harazin did most of her damage in the second half with 18 points.

In the second half, Lake Crystal got it to single digits at 51-42 with 6:35 left. Maci Martini drilled two free throws followed by a putback to give Pequot Lakes a 12-point lead with under three minutes left.

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“I feel like getting rebounds definitely helps us become more physical,” Maci Martini said. “We love to fast break, so we can get it out to our guards and go up for two.”

The win gets the Patriots to 30 wins total and they will play with fifth place Friday against Montevideo.

During the game, Pequot Lakes boys earned a trip to the state tournament themselves with a win over Esko. The girls team was very excited to hear the news.

“We are proud of them and excited that we got both teams down here and finished their seasons the right way,” Lempola said.

Maci Martini added: “We all started cheering when we heard that. We are very happy for them and hopefully they’ll come to our game tomorrow.”

Lake Crystal 22 31 — 53

Pequot Lakes 35 31 — 66

LAKE CRYSTAL WELLCOME MEMORIAL

Olivia Harazin 24, Lauren Cooper 23, Ella Voges 3, Lilli Graupman 2, Katelin Flack 1. FG 17-44 (39%), FT 13-17 (76%). 3-point 6-19 (31%).

PEQUOT LAKES

Isabel Larson 21, Kelsi Martini 4, Maci Martini 27, Sydnie Wgeishofski 2, Morgan Eckes 2, Lauren Schultz 6, Ella Kratochvil 2. FG 19-60 (32%), FT 24-30 (80%). 3-point 4-16 (25%).

Pequot Lakes 66, Lake Crystal 53

Key: Patriots dominate inside and at the free throw line for win.
Overall: PL 30-2, LCWM 26-6.
Next: Pequot Lakes vs. Montevideo in the Class 2A Consolation Finals 2 p.m. Friday, March 18.

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or conrad.engstrom@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.

Started at the Dispatch in June of 2019.
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