STMA’s Mackenzie Kramer helps cut down the net after beating Maple Grove. (Photo by Jake Schroer)

For the first time since 2016, the Lady Knights basketball team qualified for the state tournament with a 70-52 win over Maple Grove. STMA had lost the previous two section final games.

Maple Grove gained an edge in the first half with a 12-6 lead early, but STMA went on a run to tie the game at 17. The score remained close throughout the first half, but the Lady Knights gained their own edge with a 12-5 run, including a late three-point basket by Mackenzie Kramer.

Leading 34-27 coming out of halftime, STMA gained a double-digit lead and then fought off Maple Grove’s various comeback attempts. The Lady Crimson got within six points at 47-41, but the Lady Knights extended the lead shortly thereafter. With five minutes left in regulation, the Lady Knights led 52-43.

The next three possessions provided the dagger STMA needed. Emma Miller and Kramer each hit three pointers and then Miller hit a layup to make the score 60-43 with just a few minutes left. The Lady Knights wound up winning by a margin of 18 points.

Head coach Kent Hamre said that if you were looking for a thousand-pound brick, it was somewhere else because it was finally off the team’s backs.

“We’ve been the one seed the last three years and just haven’t produced,” he said. “We finally did it.”

Many of STMA’s current team will now play in their first state tournament. Vanessa Alexander played on the last tournament team in 2016 as an eighth-grader.

Kramer spoke about the importance of the win.

“It means a lot to get everyone back (to the state tournament),” she said.

STMA earned the #3 seed and played Lakeville North on Wednesday at Williams Arena.

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