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Scoggins: Stewart's state tournament streak continues with Lakeville North

High school athletes are lucky if they get to participate in one state tournament in their career.

Lakeville North senior Drew Stewart has played in nine consecutive state tournaments in three different sports.

Stewart scored six points in Lakeville North’s 60-49 victory against Maple Grove in a Class 4A quarterfinal at Target Center.

That pushed his state tournament streak to nine in a row – four in basketball, three in football and two in baseball.

His streak actually stands at 10 because he was a freshman member of Lakeville North’s football team that advanced to the Prep Bowl in 2012. Stewart hardly played that season so …

“I don’t count that one,” he said. “I didn’t play any meaningful minutes.”

Stewart was a three-year starter at quarterback. He helped Lakeville North win its first boys' basketball state championship in 2014.

J.P. Macura stole the show that night with 43 points in a remarkable shooting display. Stewart nailed a corner three-pointer in the final 30 seconds to cut Hopkins' lead to one point, putting Lakeville North in position for the upset.

Stewart said that state tournament was his most memorable. He doesn’t take the others for granted.

“I know I’m very lucky to have this type of success with such a great group of guys,” he said. “I feel blessed. Without all my teammates and my coaching staffs, I don’t know if I would be here.”

 Stewart said participating in a state tournament never becomes routine, not even the ninth time.

“It never gets old coming back,” he said. “Walking through that tunnel [at Target Center] and seeing all the people here, it gives me the chills.”

His pregame nerves, however, have “dulled” with experience.

“At first, I used to be up all night, almost puking in the morning,” he said.

Stewart has a chance to extend his tournament streak to 10 – or 11, if you count the freshman year of football – with Lakeville North’s baseball team.

Asked what it would be like to not play in a state tournament, Stewart said, “I don’t know. I’ll tell you if it happens.”

Stewart signed a football scholarship with Augustana University to play quarterback.

Drew Stewart at practiced at Lakeville North High in August 2015. (Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune)

No surprise, Macura comes through in clutch again

J.P. Macura has never shied away from pressure moments on a basketball court.

As a Lakeville North senior two years ago, Macura made a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer in the state semifinals and then scored 43 points in the Class 4A championship in a victory against Hopkins.

So it came as no surprise to see Macura lead Xavier with 19 points Wednesday night in a 90-83 upset of No. 1 Villanova.

“I really try and have extreme confidence in big games because if you lack confidence at the big stage you’re going to really struggle,” Macura said by phone from Cincinnati on Thursday. “It’s important for me and my team to have confidence in that game because it carries over.”

Xavier is now 25-3 and ranked No. 5 in the country.

Macura, a sophomore guard, comes off the bench and averages 9.8 points and 2.6 rebounds.

He’s elevated his play of late, scoring in double figures in seven of the past nine games. He scored a career-high 20 points against Marquette during this stretch and contributed 19 points against top-ranked Villanova.

“He played absolutely fearless,” Xavier coach Chris Mack said. “I’ve said this from the time he’s stepped on the court at Xavier, he’s never afraid of the big moment. He almost needs to be at times because he can get a little loose. …

“I’ve talked to him, with two or three minutes [left] and you’re milking a nine- or 10-point lead, we don’t need an up-and-under reverse layup in traffic with 25 seconds left on the shot clock. …

“I wouldn’t trade him for anybody. He’s fearless. The moment is never too big for him. His growth as a sophomore has been tremendous.”

Asked about his lack of nerves in those tense situations, Macura said: “I think it just comes from the passion I have for the game. I just don’t want to lose.”

Macura averages 22.6 minutes off the bench and is fifth on the team in scoring. He’s shooting 82.2 percent from the free-throw line.

“I’m just trying to let the game come to me and not trying to force and take bad shots,” he said. “I think my teammates do a great job of getting into the lane and creating shots for other players. We’re playing really well together right now.”