1A: Ellsworth, Cass Lake-Bena to put crown on the line

  • Article by: Ron Haggstrom
  • Star Tribune
  • March 23, 2007 - 11:55 PM

St. Bernard's fans were saying "oh, no" every time Aaron VanDerStoep launched a three-pointer. When they were silent, Cody Schilling was slashing through the defense for a layup or dishing off for one.

Schilling (35 points) and VanDerStoep (28) combined for 63 points, leading No. 4 Ellsworth over top-ranked St. Bernard's 85-73 in the Class 1A boys' state basketball tournament semifinals Friday at Target Center. Ellsworth (31-1) will play No. 2 Cass Lake-Bena (30-1) for the championship at noon today.

Ellsworth 85, St. Bernard's 73: "We had to play the perfect game to beat them, and we came close to it," Schilling said. He finished with a triple-double, also grabbing 11 rebounds and handing out 10 assists. "We came out thinking we had something to prove."

VanDerStoep went 6-for-8 from three-point range in the first half as Ellsworth built a 39-33 lead. Ellsworth scored eight of the final 10 points in the half.

"I hit a few threes, and my teammates did a good job of getting me the ball," VanDerStoep said. He finished 7-for-12 behind the arc.

His first-half performance made St. Bernard's extend its defense after the intermission, opening plenty of lanes for Schilling to drive. Eight consecutive points gave the Panthers a 52-40 lead with just over four minutes gone in the second half.

"We talked about being the underdog," Schilling said. "We never were the underdog all year. The pressure was on them."

It showed. Ellsworth shot 60 percent from the floor and St. Bernard's (30-1) only connected on 37 percent.

"The teams that gave us our best games shot the three well against us," St. Bernard's coach Ed Cassidy said. The Panthers were 10-for-16 from three-point range. "They were awesome shooting the three. It caught up with us today."

Cass Lake-Bena 61, Barnum 48: The Panthers aren't caught up in the quest to breaking the state scoring record any more. Their focus has turned to moving on.

"It doesn't matter," Panthers junior guard Joel Salscheider said of the scoring record. Cass Lake-Bena averaged a state-record 96.2 points per game last year. The Panthers entered the state tournament averaging 100.8. "We just want that No. 1."

The Panthers quickly let Ellsworth know who it would face for the title. They scored the first 11 points in the opening three minutes and never looked back.

"We learned from our first game [a 46-43 victory over Lester Prairie] that we had to play our game, and not the other team's," Salscheider said. "We wanted to play an up-tempo game."

Salscheider scored a game-high 26 points and had nine rebounds.

Ron Haggstrom •

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