MORRIS -- For the second straight year Staples-Motley upended Benson in the Section 6AA-West girls basketball championship as the Cardinals posted a 54-42 win Tuesday at the University of Minnesota-Morris campus.
And again the Cardinals (17-12) will meet East sub-section winner Sauk Centre (28-1) in the section final on Friday at Halenbeck Hall at St. Cloud State University.
Sauk Centre won last year's meeting, 58-44.
Staples-Motley, which led 14-2, shot only 29 percent (11-for-38) from the field, but the Cardinals outscored top-seeded Benson by 17 at the free-throw line by cashing 24-of-38 attempts. The Braves were 7-for-15 from the foul line.
The Braves (20-8) were also hampered by making just one 3-pointer in 24 attempts. Plus Emily Auch, the area's leading scorer, was in foul trouble and was held to eight points, nearly 11 below her season average. Auch, who sat the last nine minutes of the first half, eventually fouled out with 8:01 remaining in the game.
"We only made one shot from three-point range and we dug a hole we never quite got out of," said Benson coach Mark Grussing. "I don't think Emily played more than 10 minutes and that really changes our offense. We got two quick baskets to start the second half, but then Emily got her fourth right away. She came back in later and got her fifth."
The No. 2-seeded Cardinals led 24-16 at halftime and was led by Kelly Pearson's 15 points. Mikayla Wing added 10 points and both players collected seven rebounds while Wing also dished out six assists.
Emma Peterson netted 16 points and Emily Goff hooked 11 rebounds to pace Benson.
"I thought the game was called a little tight for two teams that like to play man-to-man," said Staples-Motley coach Arden Beachy. "So when you get behind like they did it gets hard to apply a lot of pressure and not foul."
Staples-Motley won last year's matchup 56-52.
Staples-Motley 54, Benson 42
Staples-Motley (17-12) 24 30 -- 54
Benson (20-8) 16 26 -- 42
STAPLES-MOTLEY - 11-38 FG (3-12 3-pt); 24-38 FT; 30 rebounds; 19 fouls ... Scoring: Jaelin Beachy 5, Mikayla Wing 10, Kelly Pearson 15, Abby Smith 6, Kelsey Rice 3, Jasmine McGillvray 6, Bobbie Jo Mathe 5, MacKenzie Holst 2, Marilyn Eagletail 2 ... 3-point shots: not available ... Rebound leaders: Pearson 7, Wing 7 ... Assist leaders: Wing 6 ... Steal leaders: not available
BENSON - 16-57 FG (1-24 3-pt); 7-15 FT; 39 rebounds; 26 fouls ... Scoring: Emma Peterson 16, Kenzie Jensen 3, Emily Auch 8, Samantha Goff 6, Emily Goff 7 ... 3-point shots: Peterson 1 ... Rebound leaders: E. Goff 11, Auch 7 ... Assist leaders: Beth Larson 4 ... Steal leaders: Peterson 3