SW Christian Basketball - Brunsberg

Chloe Brunsberg netted 20 points with 14 points for a double-double effort for Southwest Christian in a 72-59 loss to Holy Family Catholic on March 13.

Southwest Christian entered the Section 5AA playoffs with a sub-.500 record at 8-10, a No. 10 seed out of 14 teams.

And ever since all they've done is win.

The Stars won 72-51 at seventh-seeded Blake School. The Stars won 56-51 at second-seeded Minneapolis North. And on Tuesday, they knocked off No. 3 seed Maranatha Christian by a 77-46 score.

A No. 10 seed in a section final? Incredible.

"We've just really come together as a team. We started playing for each other. We started playing for our seniors. Our offense is just clicking right now. We haven't been shooting like this all season," Southwest Christian leading scorer Chloe Brunsberg said.

Brunsberg, a sophomore, on the varsity team for a third year, led all scorers with 23 points. She came into the game averaging nearly 17 points per game.

Team statistics show Brunsberg is shooting 42 percent on 3-pointers, converting 51, more than the rest of her team combined. In the semifinal she hit five 3-pointers, including three in the second half.

"It took a lot of hard work in the summer on my shot. It's made me more versatile and dynamic of a player," Brunsberg said.

Southwest Christian dominated the early stages of the contest. Seven straight points, inside buckets from Hannah and Greta Schwarz -- an assist on an end-to-end rush from Lillian Rediger -- and a 3-pointer from Brunsberg increased the lead to 25-10.

By halftime it was 32-18 Stars.

When Maranatha Christian cut the deficit to 10 points at 35-25, Southwest Christian scored 19 of the next 21 points to put the game away midway through the second half.

Mehlayna Straub converted five second-half field goals for 10 points, while Greta Schwarz, Emily Wilson, Kristin O'Brien, Rediger, and Brunsberg each converted multiple field goal attempts.

Greta Schwarz added 11 points with Hannah Schwarz (seven), Wilson (six) and Rediger (six) other scoring leaders.

"When we saw the bracket laid out for us. We felt like we had a good draw. We were pretty excited to be on the bottom half of the bracket. I feel like that gave us a boost of confidence we could do this," Brunsberg said.

She also credited a senior class that has provided strong leadership down the stretch. Bringing a calming feeling to the team in chaotic times in the playoffs.

Southwest Christian, which has never qualified for the girls basketball state tournament, will play defending Section 5AA champion Providence Academy in the final at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 25, in Plymouth.

The top-seeded Lions own a record of 19-1.

"We're ready. We really want to win the next one. We're a 10 seed; no one expected this from us. We're the underdog, and I think that's giving us a lot of motivation to keep beating the teams seeded higher than us," Brunsberg said.

PROVIDENCE ACADEMY 72, HOLY FAMILY CATHOLIC 51

Already up seven points, top seed Providence Academy struggling to put points on the board, Holy Family Catholic attempted four outside shots in a five-possession stretch. An opportunity to go up double digits.

All four shots missed, from three different players. It was an omen for the night for the Fire in the Section 5AA semifinals.

Holy Family Catholic struggled from the field, and was unable to slow down the Lions once they found their touch in a 72-51 final.

Providence Academy, the defending Section 5AA champions, and winners of 19 of 20 games, host No. 10 seed Southwest Christian, in the championship at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 25.

The Lions scored 15 straight points, holding the Fire without a basket for six-plus minutes. Sophie Zay's 3-pointer broke the streak, but by that time Providence Academy had gained a 19-11 lead.

Freshman guard Brooke Hohenecker hit three 3-pointers in the first half, four for the game, as Providence Academy led 34-19 at halftime. A scoring stretch of 30-8 for the Lions over the final 12 minutes.

Kate Buchholz and Zay scored on back-to-back possessions in the second half, drawing the Fire within 50-38 before it was Hohenecker again from outside. The closest the Fire got was 11 at 55-44.

It is the second consecutive semifinal round exit to Providence Academy for Holy Family Catholic, which returns its entire team, which won 10 games in 2021.

"Our season didn’t end how we wanted it to tonight but I’m so proud of the year we had. Constantly overcame adversity and became one team. We have a special group that I feel lucky to coach. We will be back," first-year Holy Family Catholic coach Brandon Antl said on Twitter.

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