BENZONIA -- Start packing.
Central Lake is bound for the Breslin Center.
Pushed to the brink Tuesday night, the unbeaten and top-ranked Trojans survived, edging Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart 51-45 in overtime in a Class D basketball quarterfinal at Benzie Central.
Central Lake (26-0) will face Adrian Lenawee Christian (18-7) in a Thursday evening semifinal at Michigan State's Breslin Center. Adrian Lenawee advanced by beating Battle Creek St. Philip 39-32.
It will be Central Lake's first Final Four appearance in school history. The Trojans lost to eventual state champion Rock-Mid Peninsula in a quarterfinal in the late 1970s.
"At the beginning of the season we knew we had the potential to go," Central Lake center Jasmine Hines said. "But now that we're going it's really exciting."
On a night when her teammates struggled offensively, Hines came through with a 44-point effort to power the Trojans.
"We have nights where we don't hit our shots," Hines said. "They knew I was on so they kept feeding me the ball -- and it worked. They were really unselfish."
Hines scored all 19 of Central Lake's points in the first half when the Trojans took a 19-16 lead at the break. Sacred Heart (21-5) came out on fire in the third quarter -- a quarter in which the lead changed hands nine times. A 3-pointer by Julia Wagner just as time was about to expire put the Irish up 34-32 going into the fourth.
With Sacred Heart leading 38-37, Hines, using her size and strength inside, scored two baskets to give the Trojans a 41-38 lead with 1:41 to go. It stayed that way until Elizabeth Hunter buried a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left to force overtime.
Central Lake scored the first six points in the extra session and never looked back in punching its ticket to the Breslin Center.
"All week it's just been, 'Going to the Breslin, going to the Breslin,'" sophomore guard Sheila Crouse said. "We had our minds set on that. When we went into overtime we were like, 'We've got to finish this.' Finally, we did. And it feels great."
Crouse scored her only basket in overtime and it was key. Wagner had cut the gap to four, 47-43, when Crouse drove the lane and scored to push the margin back to six with 1:21 to go.
"I was going to pass to Jasmine, but I saw two girls on her so I stretched out, flung it over the basket and it went in," Crouse said.
The Irish tried to make it as difficult as possible for the Trojans to feed the ball inside to Hines. The strategy? Front and back Hines and apply pressure on the ball in hopes of denying an entry pass.
"I thought we executed our game plan really well tonight," Sacred Heart coach Damon Brown said. "We knew coming in we were going to have our hands full. Jasmine's not a good player, she's a great player. I thought we did a nice job being physical with her and limiting her touches in the paint. But once she gets in the paint she's tough to stop. Our girls did the best they could against her.
"She has great hands. So it's really tough if you don't put a lot pressure on the ball because they're going to lob it in there and she's going to get it. For the most part, we did a good job.
"I loved our effort. I loved our energy. We battled right up until the end. As a coach, that's all you can ask from your players. That they give you everything they've got. And that's what they did."
Central Lake coach Al Becker applauded Sacred Heart's effort.
"That's a top-notch program," he said. "I like their club. They deserve to go just as much as we do. We beat a great program. We're excited."
The Trojans pulled it out, even without an outside game.
"We used them (baskets) all up in warm-ups tonight," Becker said. "We were cold from the outside.
"But Jasmine played huge. She's a beast for anybody to play against. I think we've seen just about every possible defense on her throughout the season. She just finds ways to score. She's a tough competitor. We needed her. And our kids found her really well all night long."
Hines was not surprised with the constant attention she received.
"All season I've been double- and triple-teamed," she said. "It's not that big of a deal. My teammates know how to get me the ball. They work with it. And they obviously did a nice job tonight."
Chelsea Mills led the Irish with 14 points. Wagner added 11 and Hunter 10.