Tre Jones wasn't worried, but he might have been the only one in Target Center who could say that. His Apple Valley team trailed Forest Lake by 10 points six minutes into the second half. An upset appeared to be brewing.
"I knew we'd be able to pick it up," Jones said. "We've been there before."
With Jones playing his trademark lockdown defense, Apple Valley did indeed rally, ending unseeded Forest Lake's bid to shock the basketball community with a 67-60 victory.
Apple Valley's wobbly start Wednesday wasn't a surprise, at least not from a state tournament standpoint. In three of their past four state tournament appearances, the Eagles have struggled early in the quarterfinals. Last season, the Eagles trailed Cretin-Derham Hall by 12 in the second half before rallying for victory.
"Hopefully, we're over the jitters now and we can play more consistently in the next game," Apple Valley coach Zach Goring said.
Forest Lake (19-11) may have gone into the game as decided underdogs, but the Rangers weren't about to be intimidated. Playing an unconventional 1-3-1 zone, they built a 34-28 halftime lead.
"We told the guys from the beginning of the week of practice that we were going to give them a game," Forest Lake forward Cooper Berg said.
Apple Valley's rally began with its press. The Eagles went on a 10-1 run to cut the deficit to a single point. They finally regained the lead on six straight points from guard Luke Martens and pulled away minutes later, making eight straight free throws in the final minute.
Jones finished with 22 points and Martens 15 for Apple Valley (26-4). Forest Lake was led by Manny Jingco's 20 points.