by Eric Oslund
Sun Thisweek-Dakota County Tribune
The Elk River girls basketball team went into their semifinal matchup against Lakeville North full of confidence. The two teams met earlier in the season and the Elks won 61-47.
The game took place Dec. 3 and it was the Elks’ first game of the season, but the semifinal seemed to be trending in that direction again early. The Elks held a 23-11 lead with a little more than eight minutes to go in the first half, but then momentum shifted.
After a Lakeville North timeout, the Panthers went on a 14-1 run, which included a three pointer in the final seconds of the half, to give them a 25-24 lead.
For the second game in a row, the Elks had lost a sizeable first-half lead.
The lead changed hands to open the second half, but a Lakeville North 12-1 run put them up 43-36 with 10:25 remaining.
The Panthers led 54-52 with 3 minutes remaining, but Elk River’s Gabi Haack converted a basket and foul shot to put her time ahead 55-54 with 2:09 remaining.
Lakeville North responded with a bucket to lead 56-55 with 1:30 remaining, and the Elks got a field goal of their own to take the lead back at 57-56.
After the Panthers turned the ball over on a charging call, it got a steal, missed on a layup attempt and had a made basket waived off as a timeout was called.
The Panthers had one shot blocked out of bounds and had another good look at the basket with 2.4 seconds left, but was unable to convert.
The Elks will take on Hopkins in the state finals on Saturday, March 18, at 8 p.m. in Williams Arena. It will be the first time in Class AAAA girls basketball history that two undefeated teams battle for the state title.