After a slow start, and a 10-point deficit early in the second half, Lakeville North executed down the stretch Wednesday to defeat Buffalo 59-47 in the Class 4A quarterfinals at the Target Center.
Senior guard JP Macura led the way for the Panthers, going 8-for-21 from the field and scoring 23 points.
“I give them a lot of credit, they forced me to take a lot of tough shots,” Macura said. “In the second half, I was able to get to the hoop a little bit more.”
Lakeville North coach John Oxton knew his team needed to regain its composure.
“We were just settling for shooting whatever shot without working very hard to get a better shot,” Oxton said. “They had a great defensive plan, they were going to slow down JP … Guys stepped up and made plays.”
Key three-pointers from Alex Reiland and Stewart Drew got the Panthers (25-5) within 41-39 midway through the second half. After that, a pair of free throws, a defensive rebound and a quick jumper by Macura gave the Panthers a 45-44 lead with 4 minutes and 42 seconds left they would not relinquish.
Collin Olmscheid led the Bison (23-7) with 18 points while Levi Bean added 10 points.
Cretin-Derham Hall 69, St. Francis 53: The Raiders trailed the Saints by two points when junior Sam Neumann made arguably the biggest shot of the game.
Neumann’s three-pointer gave Cretin-Derham Hall, which upset top-ranked Apple Valley last week, its first lead since the beginning of the first half. He was fouled on the play and made the free throw during the Raiders’ 14-0 run, which closed the first half.
“The team gets fired up, I get fired up when something like that happens,” Neumann said. “It picked the team up, kind of changed the momentum of the game.”
Neumann finished with 20 points, including 15 in the second half, as the third-seeded Raiders (24-6) withstood a slow start and a late charge from unseeded St. Francis (24-6). Juniors Donnell Gresham and Joe Rosga had 20 points and 15, respectively.
“The guys have just believed in that this is where they want to be, and they don’t want it to stop,” coach Jerry Kline Jr. said.
St. Francis cut the lead to four with 6:32 left, but Neumann and Gresham scored seven unanswered points to thwart the comeback attempt. The Raiders made nine of 10 free throws in the last two minutes to hold on.
St. Francis’ Jake Johnson led the Saints with 15 points. Johnson is among the 10 seniors who led St. Francis to its first state tournament berth since 2000.
Hopkins 70, Tartan 58: Turns out the Royals can play a little defense, too.
Hopkins, ranked No. 1 and the top seed in the state tournament, faced a Titans team allowing the fewest points per game in Class 4A. After feeling out Tartan’s schemes for a portion of the first half, the Royals took control.
Hopkins (29-1) shot above its season averages in field goal and three-pointer percentage in the first half. The Royals caused 11 Tartan turnovers and committed only five.
“The problem is we turned it over too much from the top of the key to the halfcourt area, which I call the red zone,” Tartan coach Mark Klingsporn said. “And they’ll make you pay in the open court. They are good at that.”
Tartan’s tendency to pressure some Hopkins ballhandlers and not others made the Royals struggle in transition and “for a second it got us thinking,” Hopkins coach Ken Novak Jr. said.
But Hopkins switched roles. Trailing 19-18, the Royals became the aggressors, going on a 10-0 run and forcing four turnovers by Tartan (23-7).
Hopkins senior guard Kamali Chambers gave his team a lift with a pair of nice passes that led to easy layups and leading all players with 21 points. He finished 5-for-7 from the three point arc.
“He’s a very good point guard and a very good shooter,” Novak said. “Kamali is a kid that sparks us.”
DAVID LA VAQUE