Plainview-Elgin-Millville rose to the challenge against the Saints.
St. Peter senior guard Joey Bartlett buried a three-pointer with 14 minutes, 56 minutes remaining. He ran back to his own free-throw line and slapped both of his hands on the Williams Arena floor. The intensity level wasn't going to subside until there was a survivor.
That was fine with Plainview-Elgin-Millville (25-6), which didn't back down from the second-ranked Saints (28-2), winning 69-65 in the Class 2A quarterfinals on Wednesday.
Plainview-Elgin-Millville used a balanced attack with junior guard Beau Nelson pacing four Bulldogs players in double figures with 18 points.
"It was tough to stay focused it was so intense," Nelson said. "You have to play all 36 minutes to win it, and that's what we did tonight."
As far as the intensity level: "I would give it an 11 out of 10," Nelson said.
Bartlett finished with 22 points.
RON HAGGSTROMBraham 81, St. Croix Lutheran 78
Braham senior guard Tyler Vaughan has a scorer's mentality. He's going to shoot, and shoot some more.
He's also willing to play defense when the game is on the line. Vaughan blocked a reverse layup by St. Croix Lutheran junior guard Jackson Goplen with 10 seconds left, helping the top-ranked Bombers survive a scare at Williams Arena. The Bombers led by one point at the time.
"That was the biggest play of my career," said Vaughan, who has scored more than 3,000 career points. "I can play defense when I have to, but I'm usually conserving my energy for the offensive end."
Sophomore forward Zach Dahlman made two free throws with 7 seconds left. Teammate Shaun Hollencamp, a junior guard, scored on a layup with 18 seconds left, following a steal by senior forward Anthony Bias, to give Braham (30-1) a 79-78 lead.
The Crusaders (24-7) appeared to be on a mission. They led by seven with less than 4 minutes remaining, and 78-74 with 30.8 seconds left. Vaughan buried a three-pointer 7 seconds later, and Braham quickly called its last timeout, setting up its trapping defense for Bias' steal. St. Croix Lutheran missed the front end of a one-and-one with 2 seconds left after a Braham foul.
"That was crazy," said Vaughan, who finished with 34 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. "You can't really script an ending like that."
RON HAGGSTROMPerham 51, Worthington 47
As Perham's leading scorer this season, Jordan Bruhn has hit plenty of clutch shots for the No. 1-seeded Yellow Jackets.
But in the state tournament nothing is a given. Not even for defending state champions.
"That first game always brings jitters," the senior guard said.
Bruhn made the most of his eight shots made from the field against the Trojans (21-7), none bigger than the one he swished on a pull-up three pointer from the top of the key to put Perham up by six with two minutes to go at Target Center.
Perham (28-2) made only two other three-pointers during the game, both in the first half.
"That definitely gave us a spark," Bruhn said of his shot, which helped him to a team-high 21 points. "I know it got everyone fired up. I really don't know what I was doing. I was just feeling it. I just let it go."
Coach Dave Cresep led a loud locker room celebration -- louder than most for a non-upset quarterfinal victory -- then high-fived several members of the Perham band on their way to the bus.
BRIAN STENSAASLitchfield 51, Watertown-Mayer 40
A game seemed destined to spiral out of control early in the second half wound up respectable in the end.
Eighty-eight seconds isn't even enough time to properly microwave a bowl of soup. Yet that's all it took for No. 4 Litchfield to stomp down hard on Watertown-Mayer at Target Center.
Up 20-8 at halftime, the Dragons (25-4) scored the first seven points of the second half before Royals could blink.
But Watertown-Mayer (28-3) dusted itself off. The Royals, who committed 10 first-half turnovers to only 12 field goals attempted, found their touch and whittled the Litchfield lead to single digits until free throws in the final minute pumped it back up.
Zach Kinny and Jon Terning scored 14 points apiece for the Dragons, who are making their first state appearance since winning three championships in four years from 2000-03.