St. Cloud Cathedral faced a pick-your-poison decision Friday. Defend the lane and leave Minnehaha Academy open outside or extend the defense to the perimeter.
The Crusaders chose the former. And the Redhawks made them pay.
After struggling to hit outside shots in the quarterfinals, Minnehaha Academy found its shooting eye, hitting eight of 14 three-point attempts in the first half and cruised to a 77-51 victory. The Redhawks (27-4) earned an opportunity to defend their Class 2A championship.
"We had to give up something and we chose to give up the three ball," St. Cloud Cathedral coach Matt Meyer said. "They made us pay in the first half."
Minnehaha Academy coach Lance Johnson said that was the right strategy. Problem was, it was a different game.
"After watching us [in the quarterfinals], justifiably so," Johnson said when asked about the decision to leave the Minnehaha Academy shooters open.
Minnehaha's Jalen Suggs led the charge, making three three-pointers en route to 17 first-half points. Terry Lockett, who had missed three weeks with an injured right ankle before the state tournament, continued his hot shooting, hitting three of five threes for the second consecutive game, and finished with 13 points. As a team, Minnehaha made nine of 20 three-point shots.
Lockett gave credit to Suggs for his strong outing. "He spreads the court and distributes to everybody else," he said. "He got us going."
Suggs wasn't just roaming outside lanes, however. When Cathedral players stepped out to guard him, the 6-5 point guard used his sudden first step to slice through the lane to finish at the rim. He finished with 25 points.
The Crusaders weren't without their moments, however. Senior forward Mitchell Plombon, who had 20 points, got the biggest crowd reaction of the game when he tomahawked a one-handed dunk over 6-10 Minnehaha center Chet Holmgren in the first half. But St. Cloud Cathedral's highlights were too few.