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Yellow Medicine East girls one step from state

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sports Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

MARSHALL -- Other than a hiccup in the middle of the season, Yellow Medicine East has had its way with opposing teams. The Sting (20-6) have since then pulled together and won 9 of their last 10 games entering today's Section 3AA girls basketball championship with Jackson County Central (25-2) at 8 p.m. at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.

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Jackson County Central is ranked No. 9 in Class AA by Minnesota Basketball News. YME in unranked.

"We kind of got out of rhythm with snow days and missed practice," said YME coach Scott Jans on his squad losing five of six games during a mid-season stretch. "We had a close overtime win against Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City (50-47 on Jan. 27) that kind of sparked our return to winning ways."

The Sting lost their next games to Minneota and MACCRAY, who at the time had a combined record of 25-6, but Jans said changes at practice got the team going in the right direction again.

"We realized we needed to pick up our intensity at practice," said Jans. "Getting tough and physical with your fellow teammates is not an easy thing to do, but the girls have been able to overcome that issue."

YME's intensity level will have to be at a high level tonight as Jackson County Central runs a fast-paced offense and likes to press on defense. The Huskies (25-2) have outscored their opponents by an average score of 64-43 during their current 11-game winning streak. JCC is seventh among Class AA teams in scoring, averaging 66 points a game, while YME (20-6) averages nearly 49 ppg.

"(JCC) plays at an incredibly fast pace and we are considerable deliberate in our style of play," said Jans. "It will be a definite battle of styles. They press and trap all over the place, but we have been able to handle the pressure, for the most part, this season. Our success will depend on the ability to be calm and pass the ball to break the press."

An advantage the Sting do have is their height. The starting five for YME all stand 5-feet-9 or taller while the Huskies have just one starter that measures at 5-10. Juniors Emily Baker (6-foot), Angie Scheffler (5-11) and Kylie Jans (5-10) anchor the interior defense for YME and account for nearly 60 percent of the team's offense.

"We want to be able to control the ball," said Jans. "We will have to have strong individual performances on defense."

Especially who ever gets the assignment of guarding 1,000-point scorer Whitney Burmeister. The 5-9 junior scored a school-record 38 points in a game this season and averages nearly 18 points a game.

"She plays inside, but she can go outside and hit the three as well," said Jans "She hits the boards very hard, so we will have to play sound team defense to keep her under control."

YME's last trip to the state tournament was in 2002 and it's been seven years since JCC last qualified for state.

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