Even modern sport utility vehicles lack the cameras and other safety features necessary for protection from the Columbia Heights defense.
Relentless as it is unpredictable, the Hylanders' defense flustered St. Thomas Academy throughout a 75-62 victory on Wednesday in the Class 3A quarterfinals at Williams Arena. No. 4 seed Columbia Heights (21-6) scored 25 points off 16 turnovers by No. 5 seed St. Thomas Academy (20-10).
"Everybody watches our film and says that we're fast but that they can keep up with us," senior guard Quentin Hardrict said. "It's different when you're on the court with us."
Fast and anticipating passes, Columbia Heights players create confusion by attacking from various angles. "At the start, it got us rattled a little bit," Cadets junior guard Jack Thompson said. "They do come from everywhere."
Trailing 49-35 in the second half, St. Thomas Academy battled back and trimmed its deficit to six with 7:03 left. Unfazed, Columbia Heights responded with six consecutive points. "We would cut it down and they'd hit shots," said Cadets senior Sam Vascellaro, who scored a team-best 18 points.
Columbia Heights posted 12 steals, only one more than St. Thomas Academy. An ability to convert the thefts into points made the difference.
"Defense is the best offense," said Hylanders senior guard Deundra Roberson, who scored a game-high 24 points.
That brought a knowing grin to coach Willie Braziel's face: "This team gets it."
DAVID LA VAQUE
DeLaSalle 90, Hermantown 63: The Islanders trailed by six early, a footnote in an otherwise convincing 90-63 victory for the six-time defending champions. "We were just a step slow and they got some quick shots early," DeLaSalle coach Travis Bledsoe said.
The No. 1 seed Islanders (25-4) got going as the first half wore on. They shot a scorching 64.5 percent and forced 12 Hawks turnovers by halftime.
Gabe Kalscheur led DeLaSalle with 21 points.
Peter Soumis led Hermantown (14-16) with 15 points. The Hawks shot a strong 53.2 percent from the field, but DeLaSalle's rim-attacking game plan became impossible to stop. The Islanders made 59.1 percent of their shots and committed only eight turnovers.
"Our boys don't see a team of that caliber in the northland," Hawks coach Andy Fenske said.
DAVID LA VAQUE
Austin 64, Sauk Rapids-Rice 55: Austin came into the state tournament averaging 78 points per game.
"We thought if we held them to 60 points, we'd be in the game," Sauk Rapids-Rice coach Derek Peterson said. "We executed our defensive game plan perfectly and held a great team to 64."
But the Packers managed to pull out a nine-point victory over the Storm.
The Packers (27-2), who led by three points at halftime, opened the second half with a 16-4 run to forge a 46-31 lead. The Storm (21-9) rallied to pull within six points at 61-55 with 27 seconds left. But the Packers made three free throws after that to fend off the Storm.
Austin was led by Moses Issa with 20 points.
"I liked the way we started the second half," Austin coach Kris Fadness said. "We thought we'd wear them down. Give Sauk Rapids-Rice credit, they hung in there."
Anthony Massman scored 18 points to lead the Storm. Cody Landwehr added 13 points and became the school's all-time leading scorer. Massman and Landwehr each had 11 rebounds, too.