Balanced Hayfield returns to Class A state championship game – Reuters Sports News
This article will be updated later today with additional information and quotes.
MINNEAPOLIS – Hayfield returns to the Class A State Championship game.
The tournament-seeded and No. 1-ranked Vikings in the state dethroned No. 4 seed Cherry 72-61 on Friday in the state semifinals at Williams Arena.
Hayfield (31-2) will have a chance to defend his state title when he plays for the Class A championship at 11 a.m. Saturday, also at Williams Arena.
“We’re not happy with this one,” Hayfield junior Isaac Matti said. “We’re happy to celebrate that a bit, but we’re into the next game.”
The Vikings excelled at 3-point shooting in their 2021-22 men’s basketball season, but they’re far from a one-dimensional team.
Hayfield’s attacking balance and flexibility were on full display in the semi-finals. The Vikings made over 300 3-pointers this season, but only needed four to defeat Cherry 72-61.
“I feel like we’re a well-rounded team and can play any style,” Hayfield coach Chris Pack said. “We obviously had the size advantage and we talked about it.”
Cherry’s biggest starter was 6-foot-2 sophomore Isaac Asuma, a first-team All-State selection. Asuma, who has already scored over 2,000 career points, was exceptional as he scored 36 points. But Hayfield dominated on the inside and shut down the Cherry cast.
“Basically we just said, ‘Just keep helping, shut down the role players,'” Hayfield senior striker Easton Fritcher said. “Play a solid solid defense and hope Isaac doesn’t go away. Unfortunately he did, but we stopped the other guys, so we did one of two things right and that’s what got us home.
The Vikings had four players scoring between 15 and 19 points. Ethan Pack led the way with 19, the 6-1 Fritcher had 18, the 6-2 Matti had 16 and the second 6-4 Zander Jacobson added 15 points.
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Fritcher (8-for-10) and Jacobson (7-for-9) combined to shoot 15 of 19 in the game and all of their points came inside. The Vikings shot a vigorous 60 percent as a team (27 for 45) and also controlled the boards 30-21.
“Me and Easton knew early in the game that we were bigger than them and we just had to get the rebounds and finish inside when we needed them,” Jacobson said.
Fritcher had 12 rebounds and Jacobson added eight. Fritcher also dished out five assists.
“Yeah, our whole game plan was just to smash the boards, feed each other and obviously be physical,” Fritcher said.
While Ausma had 36 points, no other Cherry (27-5) player had more than 11.
“He’s quick and he has a lot of movement,” Matti said. “For a sophomore, he’s really good. I knew I was going to have my hands full. »
The Vikings overcame an 18-11 deficit in the first half and surged in the final four minutes of the first half. Hayfield closed the first half on an 8-0 run for a 32-26 lead at the break and started the second half by scoring the first six points to quickly open a 38-26 lead.
“It was tight at the end of the six minutes and we were like, ‘It’s a big five minutes here. We have to win those five minutes,'” Chris Pack said.
Cherry stayed in the game, but never went below seven in the final half. Hayfield struggled on the line, but made just enough free throws going 14 for 29. The Vikings also won plenty of battles over stray shots.
“We’ve done so many hustle plays and gotten steals,” Chris Pack said. “I thought that was a big part of the game.”
Cherry is the Section 7 champion, but he faced Hayfield in Kasson in early February. Hayfield won that game 78-65.
“It was very similar to the first game we played, it was kind of back and forth for most of the first half,” Chris Pack said.
It turned out to be the same scenario that Hayfield asserted himself in the second half of both games.
Following: Hayfield will advance to the state championship game at 11 a.m. Saturday at No. 2 Williams Arena, seeded Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa.
Full box score: