Bloomington Jefferson’s improbable section run came to a close Friday.
Top-seeded Shakopee came up clutch at the free throw line to hold off the upset-minded Jaguars 52-45 for the Class 4A, Section 2 championship at Apple Valley High School.
The Jaguars’ Matt Rosen buried a three-pointer with 1:07 left in the second half to cut the deficit to 43-41.
But on the ensuing possession, sophomore center Steffon Mitchell was fouled. He made five of six free throws in the closing seconds to seal the victory for Shakopee.
“I just wanted to help the team and try to continue our journey,” Mitchell said. “Jefferson’s not easy.
“We needed to come out and play with intensity and we did.”
The Sabers (22-6) played an effective 2-3 zone defense that forced Jefferson (15-13) to pass the ball around the perimeter and use precious time.
With 1:25 remaining in the first half, Tim Larson found a rare opening in the zone to give No. 7 seed Jefferson its last lead of the game at 21-19.
“We never took these guys as an underdog,” Shakopee coach Bruce Kugath said.
“We were concerned about how physical [the Jaguars] could play, but they didn’t do anything we didn’t expect.
‘‘We knew it would be a low scoring game, and if we could get to the free throw line and stay cool we would be OK.’’
Mitchell had 14 points for Shakopee.
Thomas Gathje led Jefferson with 12 points. Matt Rosen and Tim Larson also were in double figures. Each had 10 points for the Jaguars.
Shakopee returns to the state tournament for the first time since winning the Class 3A state championship in 2005.