Christian Kelly envisioned being in a gym, all by himself. He wanted to block out the boisterous crowd's noise.
The Columbia Heights senior forward strolled to the free-throw line for a 1-and-1 with 6.1 seconds left and made both shots to give the Hylanders a 71-69 upset victory over six-time defending state champion and No. 1-ranked DeLa-Salle in the Class 3A semifinals Thursday at Target Center.
"I knew if I missed those free throws everybody would chew me out," said Kelly, one of five Hylanders (22-6) in double figures with 11 points.
After a Columbia Heights timeout, senior guard Quentin Hardrict stole DeLaSalle's inbounds pass with 5 seconds left. Holding the basketball as he lay on the floor, he looked up at the clock and watched the final seconds tick off, touching off a wild celebration.
"I've been losing to this team since my freshman season," said Hardrict, who had 15 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals. "This was my last chance to beat them."
DeLaSalle junior guard Tyrell Terry's three-pointer from above the top of the key tied the score 69-69 with 29 seconds left. Terry led the Islanders (25-5) with a game-high 24 points and four assists. Gophers recruit Gabe Kalscheur was held to 12 points.
"I'm disappointed," Terry said. "It hurts."
The No. 7-ranked Hylanders took a 69-66 lead on senior guard Deundra Roberson's basket after an offensive rebound with 45 seconds left. It was their 16th and final offensive rebound of the day.
"They killed us with offensive rebounds," DeLaSalle coach Travis Bledsoe said. "We couldn't keep them off the glass. They were relentless."
Senior center Wendell Matthews paced the Hylanders with 20 points, 16 in the second half. His back-to-back three-point plays after offensive rebounds tied it at 51-51. The biggest lead the rest of the way for either team was three points.
"We wanted our players to compete," said Columbia Heights coach Willie Braziel, whose team lost to DeLaSalle twice during the regular season, 94-58 and 82-67. "I thought we were good and being overlooked."
That won't be the case any longer.
"I had to fight back the tears at the end. It was very emotional," Braziel said.
"There's not a more satisfying win than beating the machine."