MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – As quickly as March Madness came upon us, it’s now almost over.
A crazy month filled with sensational highs and emotional lows will come to an end Saturday night at the Boys State Basketball Tournament at the Target Center. By day’s end, four state champions will be crowned and the focus will already shift to the spring season ahead.
The state tournament has already had its share of surprises. Hopkins and Eastview were all set to square off in what could have been an epic state championship battle. Only problem is neither team held up its end of the deal. The Lightning, after all but cruising through the regular season, fell 75-68 in overtime during Wednesday’s quarterfinal round.
Then Thursday night, Osseo and Hopkins battled in one of the great state tournament games in recent memory. It went three overtimes thanks to a banked-in three pointer from the Royals that garnered national attention. The Orioles prevailed with an 87-86 win, dethroning the three-time state champions. Not much has been set about it, but there’s no question the suspension of Zach Stahl hurt Hopkins in this state tournament. The Royals survived in an overtime win over Woodbury in the quarterfinals and were a dominant team with him on the court.
The result is an interesting match-up for the Class AAAA state championship as Osseo will face Lakeville North, who took care of Eden Prairie in the semifinals. The Orioles are paced by D.J. Hebert and Bridgeport Tusler. Hebert scored 16 points and Tusler added 13 points in their win over Hopkins. Ian Theisen led the way with 21 points and 13 rebounds on the interior. They’re a very athletic bunch who is tough to stop when they get out in transition and share the basketball.
The Panthers are paced by guard Tyler Flack and forward Ryan Saarela, who combined for 25 points in their win over Eden Prairie.
Lakeville North has passed almost every test this year, but Osseo proved it can play with any team by beating Hopkins. I’ll take the Orioles to win it all.
We know one thing in Class AAA: A Minneapolis school will be the state champion. No. 1-seeded Washburn will face DeLaSalle and long-time coach Dave Thorson for all the marbles Saturday night.
The Millers (29-2) are led by the trio of Jerry Pratt, Joseph Doby and Nick Anderson. They can score in bunches and the faster they play, the better they are. The Islanders have handled Detroit Lakes and Grand Rapids on its way to the title game. Luke Scott scored 20 points and Reid Travis had 17 points and 11 rebounds in their win over Grand Rapids.
DeLaSalle can also get out and run, and with Thorson running the show, they’ve always been about winning with their defense. That’s fitting, because defense wins trophies.
With that said, Washburn has been one of the top teams all year. It won’t be easy, but I’ll take the Millers to win the AAA crown.
Tune into WCCO-TV’s High School Sports Rally Friday night as Mike Max and John Lauritsen will have all the state basketball tournament action covered.