Sawatzke and Lentner named to All Tournament team at state

As if finishing in fourth place at the Class AAA State Tournament wasn’t enough of a reward on its own, a team accomplishment also provided an opportunity for two Magic individuals to be recognized.
Last week, with the Class AAA championship game winding down, juniors Grace Sawatzke and Alyssa Lentner found that their 2012-13 season had not quite come to a close. Nor had their time in the spotlight. Coach Craig Geyen informed them that they would need to proceed to the tunnel by the Target Center floor. Once there, they found out why. They’d been selected to the 10-person Class AAA All-Tournament Team.
“I was shocked,” said Lentner. “I didn’t even really know what it was because we’ve never made it that far.”
The tournament team was announced shortly after the Class AAA championship game ended. While the news may have shocked Lentner, it likely didn’t surprise too many others to see the Magic duo called out to join three DeLaSalle players, three Red Wing players and two more from Richfield.
“Look at what they did for us in those three games,” said Geyen. “Those two really stepped up and showed they belong with some of the state’s elite players.”
Both of them put their best foot forward early in the tournament. Sawatzke came out guns blazing from the tip against Fergus Falls in the quarterfinal. Her brilliance in transition sparked the Magic to an early double digit lead. After having her impact slowed by foul trouble during the middle of the game, Sawatzke joined Lentner to help lead the Magic to a 15 point second half comeback. Sawatzke would finish the game with 23 points and 8 assists, plus a couple of immeasurably large buckets, including the game-tying layup with 15 seconds left in regulation. Lentner meanwhile added a double-double, scoring 18 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, all despite a quiet first half.
Lentner said it was a subtle change and a large determination that made her so effective down the stretch.
“I got over my nerves,” she said. “And I really wanted to win and make history.”
The two of them helped the Magic do just that. After Sawatzke forced overtime, Lentner forced the Magic into the next round. With just two minutes left in double overtime her trademark hustle forced an Otters’ turnover and the junior forward turned it into a transition layup, giving Monticello a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
For the next two games, both juniors held their ground against some of the state’s elite players. Squaring off against two Division I players from DeLaSalle Sawatzke scored 13 points and added four rebounds and four assists. Lentner chipped in eight points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
In the third round, playing the tournament’s No. 1 seed, both players were held in check on the scoreboard, but found ways to contribute. Sawatzke scored eight points, but dished out four assists and pulled down four rebounds.
Lentner scored seven points, but she added seven rebounds for the second straight game. Each player also recorded three steals during the game.
The last game could have provided a slightly sour note to end the 2012-13 season, but as it turned out it wasn’t the end. When the two girls were announced on the All-Tournament team they joined the eight other girls (including four future Division 1) players, for another moment on center stage at the Target Center.
“It was really cool because of the other players that were out there,” said Sawatzke. “They’re so good.”
It was an impressive group, no doubt. But this season and this tournament proved that the girls from Monticello belonged in that group.
However, games like those against Richfield and DeLaSalle, also proved there is room to move up within that group. And while some might see this honor as a reason to be satisfied, the Magic see it as reason to push for more.
“I think it pushes me a lot,” said Lentner. “Because I know I’m capable of being what [some of those girls] are.”
Class AAA All-Tournament Team (as selected by coaches attending the tournament): Allina Starr (DeLaSalle), Patiance Griffin (DeLaSalle), Tyseanna Johnson (DeLaSalle), Tesha Buck (Red Wing), McKenna Schaffer (Red Wing), Macy Kelly (Red Wing), Jessica January (Richfield), Kyla Adams (Richfield), Grace Sawatzke, Alyssa Lentner.