Anoka-Ramsey, ranked fifth in the nation, punched its return ticket to the NJCAA Division III National Championship after capturing the Region 13A title with a 78-68 win over No. 10 Minnesota West in the championship game March 3.
The Golden Rams outscored Minnesota West from the three-point line 42-18 on 40 percent shooting from behind the line while the team shot 38.1 percent from the field.
Anoka-Ramsey opened with a 37-31 lead at the half and kept up that pace in the second half, outscoring the Jays by four points in the second half for the final score.
Minnesota West forward Tiffany Gehl had a game-high 23 points and center Katey Granstra had a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds in the loss.
Anoka-Ramsey countered with a well-rounded team performance as seven players had eight points or more. Kendra Norman led the way with 15 points and three steals. The team had eight steals and Nicole Howard and Paris Finkles each blocked a shot.
All-State honoree Tacita Gonzalez had 12 points, five assists and two rebounds for the Golden Rams.
Anoka-Ramseys’ bench also outscored Minnesota West by a 24-5 margin.
To reach the finals the Golden Rams used a 71-44 win against Western Tech March 2.
Anoka-Ramsey closed out the regular season against the same Western Tech squad in LaCrosse, Wis. Feb. 23. Western Tech won that meeting 73-71 in double overtime in a game that was postponed from a Jan. 30 scheduled date.
The loss dropped Anoka-Ramsey to 20-5 in the regular season.
They added two more wins to enter nationals with a 22-5 mark with expectations high to make another run at the national title. The Golden Rams won a national title in 2010-11 and finished third in 2009-10 and 2011-12.
Men place third
Anoka-Ramsey men’s basketball knew it was in an uphill battle to reach the NJCAA Nationals.
Given what the team’s played through this season, the sudden death of the heart of the team in second-year post Henry Breedlove in December and how to continue to play in a very competitive conference, expectations were rather unknown in the MCAC-Region 13 tournament.
The Golden Rams opened with an 80-73 win against Central Lakes before losing to Rochester Community and Technical College 80-61 in the semifinals.
Anoka-Ramsey regained its composure to capture the third-place title by a 98-96 score against Minnesota State- Fergus Falls March 3.
Rochester won the region title over No. 4 seed Minnesota West CTC 89-76 at Anoka-Ramsey’s campus earlier in the day.
Rochester, ranked third in the final national poll of season, moves on to play in the NJCAA Division III National Championship at SUNY-Sullivan Count Community College in Loch Sheldrake, New York March 14-16.