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Hamlin fends off Winner to advance to Class A championship game

The Warriors cut a 15-point deficit down to three points late in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t string together enough stops and scores to overtake Hamlin.

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Winner's Kalla Bertram, left, goes to the rim against Hamlin's Ashtyn Abraham during a Class A state semifinal game on Friday in Watertown. (Jeremy Karll / Republic)

WATERTOWN -- Winner’s comeback fell short.

The Warriors cut a 15-point deficit down to three points late in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t string together enough stops and scores to overtake Hamlin. Powered by strong free-throw shooting down the stretch, the Chargers held on, 43-37, to advance to the Class A championship game.

“It’s amazing, especially after last year when we had a group of kids we thought were really good,” Hamlin coach Tim Koisti said. “To have the opportunity to play, we’re thankful for that. I talk about that every single day. Let’s be grateful for the opportunity to play, and we left it all on the floor tonight.”

For three quarters, the Chargers (21-2) held Winner’s potent offense in check. The Warriors (20-3) scored a season-low 37 points on 30.2 percent shooting, including 3-for-18 from 3-point range, as Hamlin slowed down the usually up-tempo Warriors. It led to scoring droughts that padded Hamlin’s lead.

The Chargers took a 21-18 lead into halftime, and by holding Winner scoreless for the first 4 minutes, 29 seconds of the second half, they grew a 12-point advantage. The Warriors also shot 2 of 9 from the free-throw line, as Hamlin led 35-22 heading into the fourth quarter.

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“They clamped down and they were very physical and aggressive,” Winner coach Larry Aaker said. “Some nights that’s how it goes. You have to put the ball in the hoop to be successful.”
Winner had one final run, though. Its full-court press forced 17 turnovers -- Kalla Bertram and Bella Swedlund combined for seven steals -- and near 10-second violations, while foul trouble forced Kami Wadsworth out of the post. Her 20 points on 7-for-14 shooting powered Hamlin’s offense when it broke Winner’s press.

But with her playing more on the perimeter in the fourth quarter, the Warriors went on a 12-2 run to make it a one-possession game with 1:38 remaining. Wadsworth made a second-chance bucket to extend Hamlin’s lead back to five points, which was Hamlin’s only field goal of the quarter.

Swedlund, who scored 17 points on 7-for-21 shooting, hit a 3-pointer to make it 41-37, but after forcing a turnover, missed a mid-range jumper in traffic.

“You have to give credit to Winner,” Koisti said, of Winner’s fourth quarter. “They’re long, they’re athletic and they cause fits. We went over their press and tried to duplicate it, but there’s no way. They’re such a good team. We’re fortunate enough to come out on top.”

Kylee Wadsworth hit four 3s, including timely ones in the first half to stop Winner’s momentum during her 14-point, nine-rebound performance.

Meanwhile, Hamlin put defensive stoppers Ashtyn Abraham and Mckenna Prouty on Swedlund and Betram, who scored 14 points on 6 of 17 shooting for the Warriors.

“Hamlin was dictating the game,” Aaker said. “We knew that at halftime, and we said, ‘You got to get that turned around. We have to dictate the game and dictate the flow.’ ”

Hamlin faces Aberdeen Roncalli at 7 p.m. Saturday, which it beat 47-46 earlier this season. Winner faces top-seeded St. Thomas More at 5 p.m. Saturday in the third-place game.

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Hamlin 43, Winner 37

Hamlin (21-2): Ashtyn Abraham 1-3 2-35, Mckenna Prouty 0-0 0-1 0, Ally Abraham 1-3 2-4 4, Kylee Wadsworth 4-11 14, Kami Wadsworth 7-14 6-8 20, Zoie Fraser 0-0 0-0 0, Taylor Koisti 0-0 0-0 0. Team totals: 13-31 12-18 43.

Winner (20-3): Kelsey Sachtjen 1-4 0-0 2, Maggie LaCompte 2-7 0-0 4, Ellie Brozik 0-2 0-2 0, Kalla Bertram 6-17 2-5 14, Bella Swedlund 7-21 0-2 17, Jenna Hammerbeck 0-1 0-0 0, Katherine Jankauskas 0-1 0-0 0, Ava Craven 0-0 0-0 0. Team totals: 16-53 2-9 37.

H 12 22 35 43

W 9 18 22 37

3-pointers: H 5-15 (Ky. Wadsworth 4-11, As. Abraham 1-3, Ka. Wadsworth 0-1); W 3-18 (Swedlund 3-9, Bertram 0-3, LaCompte 0-3, Brozik 0-1, Hammerbeck 0-1, Jankauskas 0-1). Rebounds: H 32 (Ky. Wadsworth 9); W 22 (Swedlund 7). Assists: H 2; W 0. Blocked shots: H 1; W 0. Steals: H 2; W 7 (Bertram 4, Swedlund 3). Turnovers: H 17; W 9. Total fouls: H 13; W 20.

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