Quarterfinal No. 1: Park Center 77, Maple Grove 56
Park Center, the top seed, suffered a 57-55 three-overtime scare in the Section 5AAAA championship game against Champlin Park last Friday. The Pirates were determined to not have that happen Wednesday in their opening game of the Class AAAA boys basketball state tournament as they defeated Northwest Suburban rival Maple Grove 77-56.
The Pirates shot 14 of 22 from the field (63.6 percent) in the first half and even stepped that up in the second stanza, making 14 of 20 shots (70 percent). They jumped out to a 33-16 halftime lead and were never seriously challenged in the second half. It was their third win over Maple Grove this season.
The Pirates were led by three double figure scorers, who combined for 51 points. Khari Broadway was a perfect 7 of 7 from the field as he scored a game-high 19 points. Dain Dainja and senior Tommy Chatman added 16 points each. Dainja also added 10 rebounds and three blocked shots. Chatman and Broadway also had seven rebounds each. The Pirates relied on an inside-outside game, shooting only six three-pointers and making just one.
Park Center used their size advantage as they outrebounded Maple Grove 41-20 and had a 31-10 edge on the defensive glass.
Maple Grove, who breezed into the state tournament, winning their three Section 8AAA games by a combined 66 points, was led by senior Nate Adams, who scored 18 points. Adams was 7 of 18 from the field and had a team-high four rebounds. Kyle Dreyer had 13 points and sophomore Caden Boettcher added 12 as Maple Grove dropped to 23-7.
Maple Grove shot just 21 of 59 (35.6 percent) from the field and only 8 of 28 from three-point range. The Crimson have made four straight state tournament appearances since moving to Section 8AAAA but are just 1-6 during that time.
Maple Grove loses their top three scorers to graduation.
Quarterfinal No. 2: Lakeville North 73, Eden Prairie 48
Lakeville North got revenge from a December 66-62 loss to Eden Prairie with a 73-48 win over the Eagles in their first round matchup.
The Panthers jumped out to a 21-9 lead as Tommy Jensen hit three three-pointers. However, Eden Prairie scored eight straight to cut the lead to 21-17 and they trailed by just four at halftime at 35-31.
Lakeville North scored the first eight points of the second half to go up 43-31. Eden Prairie countered with an 8-0 run of their own to cut the margin to 43-39, but the Panthers went on a 18-2 run to pull away.
Jensen, the senior guard, made 8 of 14 shots, including five of eight beyond the arc to lead all scorers with 23. Wisconsin signee Tyler Wahl had a typical well-rounded game as he finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots. Tate Staloch added 11 points.
The Panthers got solid contributions off the bench as Jack Rusch made 5 of 8 shots as he added 10 points and nine boards and Eli and Will Mostaert, who will both play football at North Dakota State, combined for nine points and seven rebounds and provided excellent interior defense.
The Panthers shot 27 of 54 (50 percent) from the field and made eight three-pointers. The Panthers’ defense really picked up in the second half, limited the Eagles to just 19 of 57 (33.3 percent) shooting for the game. Eden Prairie made just 6 of 32 shots in the second half and was only 2 of 18 from beyond the arc as they were forced to shoot 3s to try to comeback.
Lakeville North, making its eighth straight tournament appearance, will face Park Center in the semi-final.
Eden Prairie who returned to the state tournament for the second straight season, were led by Liberty commit Drake Dobbs with 13 points. However, he was just 5 of 18 from the field and 1 of 8 from three-point range. Austin Andrews added 12 points and nine rebounds in the loss.
Eden Prairie will return all five starters next season as they started five juniors.
Quarterfinal No. 3: Hopkins 86, Cambridge-Isanti 53
Perennial power Hopkins served notice that they miss playing at the Target Center as they defeated Cambridge-Isanti 86-53. The Royals made it back to the state tournament after a two-year absence after being upset by Wayzata two consecutive seasons in the Section 6AAAA title tilt.
The Royals used their size advantage as they jumped out to a 41-24 halftime lead behind senior Zeke Nnaji, who was named the Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year earlier this week. The Arizona commit had 23 points and seven rebounds in the first half. Hopkins had a 21-7 halftime rebounding edge.
The Royals were able to use their entire bench the second half as they pulled away, shooting 21 of 35 (60 percent) from the field. Nnaji played just six minutes in the second half as Hopkins head coach Ken Novak relied on junior Kerwin Walton and senior Dane Zimmer.
Nnaji finished with 25 points and nine rebounds. Walton had 19 points and Zimmer contributed with 15 points and eight boards.
Cambridge-Isanti was the third seed in Section 7AAAA, but the Blue Jackets made their way to the state tournament by beating Blaine 61-51 in the title game. They were led by junior guard Henry Abraham with 17 points, including five three-pointers. Austin Chromy added 10 points in the loss. Cambridge-Isanti, who set a school record for scoring and three-pointers made this season, finished the season at 17-13. The Bluejackets return two starters next season.
Quarterfinal No. 4: East Ridge 78, Eastview 41
East Ridge made their first ever state tournament appearance, a positive one as they rolled to 78-41 victory over Eastview in the final quarterfinal Class AAAA matchup at the Target Center as they extended their winning streak to 25 straight games.
The Raptors jumped out to a 14-4 lead with 11:27 left in the first half and the score remained in double figures the rest of the contest. They led 32-17 at the half after shooting 13 of 23 (56.5 percent) from the field.
East Ridge expanded the lead to 39-19 with 16:09 left in the game with a layup by sophomore Kendall Brown and the Lightning were never able to get within 20 points the rest of the way. East Ridge continued their hot shooting as they made 17 of 25 shots (68 percent) in the second half. They outrebounded Eastview 38-13 for the game.
The Raptors were paced by 18 points from Milwaukee signee Courtney Brown. He made 7 of 9 shots from the field as he added 10 rebounds. Younger brother, Kendall, who is considered the top sophomore in the state, was 8 of 11 from the floor as he finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Zach Zebrowski, who is a standout quarterback for the Raptors, made 7 of 11 shots as he finished with 17 points.
Junior Ben Carlson was named second team All-Metro by the Star Tribune and had 11 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots.
Eastview was led by junior big man Steve Crowl, who had 17 points on 7 of 13 shooting. Jaylen James added 12 points off the bench.
East Ridge will face No. 2 seed Hopkins in the semi-final. They won the season opener versus the Royals 74-65. Eastview will face Cambrige-Isanti in consolation play.