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Girls basketball: Sauk Centre knocks off Litchfield

Litchfield's Bailey Koch, right, defends Sauk Centre's Kali Peschel during the first half of the Dragons' Section 6AA final against the Mainstreeters on Friday at St. Cloud State University.

ST. CLOUD -- Sauk Centre's Kali Peschel scored a game-high 21 points and the Mainstreeters dashed Litchfield's hopes for a state tournament trip with a 49-36 win in the Section 6AA championship game on Friday at St. Cloud State University.

The Dragons fell behind by eight points and halftime and couldn't solve Sauk Centre's defense, scoring just 14 second-half points.

Litchfield finished the season 20-9. Sauk Centre advances to next week's Class AA state tournament at Target Center in Minneapolis.

"We knew they had good shooters and we did force them to take a lot of outside shots," said Litchfield head coach Bill Huhner. "Their coach (Scott Bergman) said we really made them work for their shots, we just struggled on the offensive end."

The Mainstreeters' full-court press made it difficult for Litchfield to set up its offense and led to 15 Litchfield turnovers in the first half.

While the teams both shot well in the first half, Peschel hit three of Sauk Centre's six first-half 3-point shots and also made 5 steals.

Peschel hit two more 3-pointers in the second half - the Mainstreeters hit eight 3s overall - and Sauk Centre limited the Dragons to 3-of-11 3-point shooting.

Litchfield dominated inside, outscoring the Mainstreeters 16-2 in the paint, but Sauk Centre countered that with a 16-4 edge on points off turnovers.

Koch led Litchfield with 9 points and Greta Walsh scored 8 points and 7 rebounds.

The Dragons had a solid core returning from last year's nine-win team and Huhner said they met all expectations.

"I told our coaches before the year that I thought we could be a pretty good team," Huhner said. "The key would be if they could learn from their mistakes and overcome them and mature, and they did that. They learned how to handle close games, they learned how to win, they learned how to be a team and not just a group of individuals."

Sauk Centre 49, Litchfield 36

Litchfield (20-9) 22 14 -- 36

Sauk Centre (25-4) 30 19 -- 49

LITCHFIELD - 15-39 FG (3-11 3-pt); 3-5 FT; 26 rebounds; 14 fouls ... Scoring: Jordon Peterson 2, Bailey Koch 9, Kjerstin Meyer 2, Greta Walsh 8, Shelbie Walsh 7, Hailey Horstmann 3, Kelsey Fisher 4, Michaela Rohloff 1 ... 3-point shots: Koch 1, G. Walsh 1, S. Walsh 1 ... Rebound leaders: G. Walsh 7, Koch 6 ... Assist leaders: Peterson 2, Horstmann 2 ... Steal leaders: S. Walsh 3, Koch 2, G. Walsh 2

SAUK CENTRE - 16-39 FG (8-20 3-pt); 9-17 FT; 25 rebounds; 9 fouls ... Scoring: Kali Peschel 21, Macy Weller 8, Ashley Gruber 1, Krista Primus 3, Jena Klaphake 7, Jordon Gamradt 3, Brianna VonWalde 6 ... 3-point shots: Peschel 5, Primus 1, Klaphake 1, Gamradt 1 ... Rebound leaders: Weller 6 ... Assist leaders: Peschel 2, Weller 2, Primus 2, Klaphake 2 ... Steal leaders: Peschel 6, Lexie Berscheit 2