Baskets were in short supply much of Thursday night as Blake defeated Holy Family 47-41 to win the Class 3A, Section 6 boys’ basketball championship at Chanhassen High School.
With the victory, the Bears earned their first trip to state tournament and ended the fifth-seeded Fire’s charmed run in the section playoffs.
It was quite a run for the Fire, which entered section play with a sub-.500 record and had only outscored opponents by 10 points all season but couldn’t topple the final giant in their path. Joe Hanel led the Fire (14-15) with 14 points.
The Fire controlled play early, racing to an 18-6 lead in the first half before the Bears eventually drew within 22-21 by halftime.
The Bears took their first lead 2 minutes, 30 seconds into the second half and never relinquished it. Holy Family drew close a few times, but guard John Veil made sure the Bears (22-7) would hold onto the lead by sinking six free throws without a miss down the stretch to stave off a Fire comeback.
“He did the same thing in overtime against Richfield,” Blake coach Sean Kruger said. “So when it comes time for teams to foul, we’re definitely setting picks to get him the ball.”
Veil led all scorers with 16 points.
“We knew the kids would be nervous, and there’d be some potential for maybe 5 minutes of some ugly basketball,” Kruger noted. “But we knew we had the guys in place to make a run, and they did just that.”
Kruger also heaped praise on senior guard Kebu Johnson, who has played varsity since eighth grade. “Kebu’s one of the guys who has been with us since the days of six, eight wins. I’m really happy for him.”