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Area Girls' Basketball: Title-game bound

Goodhue celebrates at midcourt after defeating Menahga in a Class A semifinal on Friday, March 15, at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. Martin Schlegel / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 4
Goodhue's Arianna Thomforde worked her way to the basket for a layup attempt in a Class A semifinal on Friday, March 15, at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. Martin Schlegel / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 4
Lexie Lodermeier of Goodhue shoots a short-range jumper in the second half of a Class A semifinal on Friday at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. Martin Schlegel / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 4
Joslyn Carlson follows through on a free-throw attempt during a a Class A semifinal on Friday at Williams Arena. Martin Schlegel / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 4

MINNEAPOLIS—Down by eight points with 8 minutes, 10 seconds left in the first half and nine points with 11:43 remaining in the second half, Goodhue relied on its defense and freshman Joslyn Carlson to make a come back.

Goodhue head coach Josh Wieme said the team can handle trailing.

"It's not that they are comfortable being down," Wieme said. "Our defense sparked us. We (forced) a couple turnovers that led straight to baskets. That gives you a great emotional boost. Obviously it cuts into the deficit. It just got us going."

Being down is nothing new to the Wildcats, but the confidence among the players in not.

"It's tough when you're down ... Definitely, our girls want it really bad," said Wildcat Lexie Lodermeier. "I think that has showed the last two games because our last two games haven't been easy. Most of our games, with our conference, weren't easy. We competed with some big schools and pretty good teams and (those teams) aren't even up here. I told them it's very important to get past that first game and we were able to do that."

The Wildcats come-from-behind 47-43 victory in a Class A semifinal over Menahga was sparked by back-to-back steals from Arianna Thomforde and Torrie Rehder. Both Wildcats converted a steal near midcourt and fast-break layups the other way. Those four points gave Goodhue a 39-38 lead with 3:50 left in the game.

"Even my other guard, Torrie, she puts pressure on, too," Thomforde said. "It helps us both get steals. She puts in a lot of effort. I put in a lot of effort. We can get the steals together. It was a great play on both of our ends to spark our whole bench and players."

The Braves came in as a good 3-point shooting team and Cierra Ahlf hit a clutch 3-pointer with 2:40 left to put her Menahga team up 42-40. Ahlf then hit a free throw 80 seconds later to put the Braves up 43-40.

Then came Carlson's heroics.

Carlson made a layup to with 1 minute to go. Goodhue had seven points in the final minute of the game, all from the freshman. Carlson had a free throw to tie the game at 43 apiece and a layup nearly 20 seconds later to put the Wildcats ahead by two.

"I really hadn't calmed down," Carlson said of her emotions while at the line. "I missed a couple (earlier). I knew I had to just get one in. I thought 'I've shot 1,000 of these. Take a deep breath.' And it just went from there."

With 3 seconds left, Thomforde was at the free-throw line with a chance to put the game away. She made both for a four-point lead, and secure the win for the Wildcats.

Carlson finished the game with a team-high 17 points a day after Wieme said he'd like to get her involved more on offense. Carlson didn't say whether anything extra was said from the coaches to motivate her, just that she needed to be tough.

"I just knew in a game like this, I need to step up," she said. "Everyone needs to step up."

To lead the Wildcats in the final minute and record a team-high in points, Carlson said she kept her certainty to score in check.

"Getting points, it does boost your confidence, but you never want to get too much confidence," Carlson said. "The whole game we just played together and stuck together."

Wieme said Carlson's ability to score in the game made for a repetitive offensive plan late in the second half.

"We ran the same play to Joslyn about four times in the last six possessions," Wieme said. "The kids did a great job. We wanted to call it without calling a timeout ... Joslyn just made a great play. Got off to great start, and she finished it."

Lodermeier finished with 16 points and a team-high seven rebounds for the Wildcats. Thomforde and Rehder combined for seven steals.

Second-seeded and third-ranked Goodhue (26-6) will face top-seeded and top-ranked Minneota (29-1) for the Class A title at 12 p.m. Saturday at Williams Arena.