3A: Waconia, Duluth East, DeLaSalle, St. Thomas Academy reach semis

  • Article by: Jim Paulsen and Ron Haggstrom
  • Star Tribune
  • March 22, 2006 - 10:49 PM

All of the favorites won in Wednesday's Class 3A boys' basketball tournament quarterfinals, setting up some intriguing matchups for today's semifinals.

St. Thomas Academy, which beat Rocori in overtime, will play DeLaSalle, which defeated Totino-Grace at noon. Duluth East, which routed Monticello, will play Waconia, which beat Lakeville South, at 2 p.m.

St. Thomas Academy 57, Rocori 51: In one of those ironies that make sports compelling, the shortest player on the court made the biggest contributions for St. Thomas Academy.

Fritz Waldvogel, a sophomore guard who has to stretch to reach his listed height of 5-7, hit a three-pointer with 1:28 left in overtime that gave the Cadets the lead for good.

As big as his shot was, it was Waldvogel's defense on Rocori's 6-5 point guard Justin Stommes that keyed the Cadets' victory.

Rocori had played a nearly flawless first half. Using a collapsing zone defense designed to keep the ball out of the hands of St. Thomas Academy forward Bryce Webster, the Spartans led 29-24 at the break.

Then the Cadets turned up the pressure.

Using speed to make up for his 10-inch height disadvantage, Waldvogel applied full-court pressure to Stommes, making it difficult for Rocori to get set in its offense.

"I think bringing Fritz in really changed the momentum," Cadets coach Mike Sjoberg said. "Even more than his offense, I thought he got our defense going."

DeLaSalle 61, Totino-Grace 36: After an emotional victory over Minneapolis Henry in the Section 5 title game Friday, DeLaSalle needed a half to get warmed up.

The Islanders used their suffocating defense at the start of the second half to trigger a 20-2 run that ended any hope Totino-Grace had.

DeLaSalle coach Dave Thorson works up such a lather imploring his defense that after a game he often looks as if he played rather than coached. When they weren't clicking on offense, it was defense that rescued them.

"The one thing about this team is that we don't let our offense impact how we play defense," Thorson said.

Totino-Grace took a 17-14 lead midway through the first half, but eventually DeLaSalle's defense proved to be too much.

Duluth East 81, Monticello 57: For the record, the Greyhounds are more than just smooth 6-7 uber-forward Cory Johnson.

Johnson, who will play at Iowa State next year, had 28 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four blocked shots.

But the rest of the Greyhounds are more than just a supporting cast.

With Monticello's post tandem of 6-9 Mitchel Grundman and 6-5 Dakota Tidd focusing on stopping Johnson in the first half, the other Greyhounds made their own contribution. Guard Sean Mayberry made three three-pointers and senior center Ben Heggestad made five of eight shots as they took a 37-31 halftime lead.

"We know that Cory is the big gun," Heggestad said. "He's a great player. But everybody here knows we have a good team and we all know our roles."

With the team established, Johnson took a more active role in the second half. After Monticello cut the lead to three, he scored the next 14 points. East built the lead to 15 (53-38) and was never threatened after that.

Waconia 50, Lakeville South 46: The Wildcats' offense got off to a sluggish start, but the defense more than made up for it. Waconia limited Lakeville South to 24 percent shooting in the first half en route to a four-point victory.

Lakeville South scored the first seven points, and the Wildcats (27-1) were held scoreless for the first six minutes before senior guard Mark Schrupp's 18-footer put the offense in gear.

"Somebody had to get us going," Schrupp said. "We always struggle at the beginning of games, but somehow we always fight back."

Waconia closed the first half with a 20-8 run, and never trailed again. Schrupp scored six of his 10 points in the half.

The Cougars (17-13), with a chance to tie it, missed three three-point attempts in the final one minute, 22 seconds. They went just 1-for-11 behind the arc.

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