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Girls' Basketball: Bears stop Raptors once again

East Ridge senior guard Noelle Tomes goes in for two of her 19 points in the first half against White Bear Lake in the section finals Thursday. (Photo by John Molene)1 / 5
East Ridge senior center Kelen Kenol takes the ball up in the second half against White Bear Lake. (Photo by John Molene)2 / 5
Senior center Mariah Sexe shoots over a White Bear Lake opponent in the second half Thursday. Sexe scored seven straight points at the end of regulation to force overtime before White Bear Lake pulled out a victory. (Photo by John Molene)3 / 5
East Ridge head coach Glen Wurm watches grim-faced as White Bear Lake takes an early first-half lead Thursday. (Photo by John Molene)4 / 5
It was a heartbreaking ending for senior co-captain Emma Stoehr and the other East Ridge seniors. (Photo by John Molene)5 / 5

It was déjà vu all over again for the East Ridge Raptors.

And this one hurt.

White Bear Lake denied the Raptors a first-ever trip to the state tournament for a second straight season, winning 52-49 in overtime in the Class 4A, Section 4 final at Hastings High School Thursday.

Last season, the Bears knocked the Raptors out of a state berth with a five-point win in the section final.

The game ended a two-year run for five senior starters for the Raptors: post players Mariah Sexe and Kelen Kenol; guards Noelle Tomes, Lauren Johnson and Emma Stoehr. That group went 43-15 the last two years, finishing second in the Suburban East Conference and then tying for first this season.

Tenth-ranked East Ridge finished 21-8 on the season.

And this one hurt more because it was the last chance for five senior East Ridge starters.

"When we did everything you can possibly do, then there's no regrets," East Ridge head coach Glen Wurm said. "The pain of losing is temporary. That'll go away. And it hurts. It strings a little bit. Again my hope is that they can walk away feeling like — you know what — we gave it everything we had."

"Great game," Wurm added. "We knew it was going to be like this. Didn't I tell you it's going to be a war? We knew that was coming. We showed a lot of fight to really get back in the game and to tie this game and then have a lead and really have a chance to win the game and just didn't make it happen. It hurts, it's disappointing."

The Raptors battled back from a 40-33 deficit with 3 minutes, 56 seconds to play to tie the game in regulation and send it to a four-minute overtime. Sexe took over down the stretch, scoring East Ridge's final seven points of regulation.

Sexe then gave the Raptors a 49-48 lead with 51 seconds to play in overtime on a 3-point play. White Bear Lake guard Alexa Molin turned a busted play into a 3-point basket for a 51-49 Bears lead with 17 seconds left. East Ridge missed at the other end, and Molin made one of two free throws to make it a 52-49 game.

White Bear Lake deflected a last-second shot attempt by East Ridge to tie the game.

Tomes had 19 points in her final game for the Raptors, Sexe scored 18 and Kenol seven.

White Bear Lake (20-9) advanced to state for the third straight season, victimizing East Ridge in the section finals the last two years.

East Ridge swept the Bears in the regular season, winning 68-57 and 47-40.

East Ridge got off to a slow start Thursday and trailed 12-6 early before tying the game at 16-16. White Bear Lake led 25-21 at the half. Stoehr picked up her third foul just before halftime and then her fourth early in the second half, and she was not able to be much of a factor for the Raptors.

The Bears led by five to seven points most of the second half before the Raptors rallied in the final four minutes.

"What a great group," Wurm said of his seniors. "This group did a terrific job in four years, to compete and to fight every night, to continue to put ourselves in position to be successful and to do it with class and character. ... I'm really proud of the legacy that they leave behind. It's a great legacy."

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