The final Class 3A boys’ basketball quarterfinal matchup was the rubber match between Wright County Conference powers Waconia and Orono.
“We just keep throwing punches at each other,” said Waconia coach Pat Hayes after his team won 73-68 on Wednesday. “We’ve had some battles over the years.”
Waconia edged Orono 83-82 in the final week of the season, avenging a 71-55 setback a month earlier.
Orono shared the East Division title with fellow Class 3A entrant New Prague while Waconia finished third. The 12-team league has two divisions.
Conference member Annandale, in the West Division, made the 2A state tournament field.
“Having four teams in the state tournament is a testament to our conference,” Hayes said. “We really believe we have one of the best conferences in the state.”
Sabers man up
After 2014’s infamous Class 4A four-overtime semifinal in which Hopkins and Shakopee tried to out-stubborn each other — Hopkins refused to attack as long Shakopee stayed put in its zone — Shakopee coach Bruce Kugath may have gotten a reputation as a coach who embraces that type of defense.
The truth, Kugath said after the Sabers defeated Roseville 64-53, is much more the opposite.
“Last year’s team was a different kind of team,” he said. “That team played about 90 percent zone. This team plays about 90 percent man-to-man. This is much more our style.”
Same foes, not players
On paper, the Hopkins vs. Lakeville North quarterfinal looked like a rematch of the 2014 Class 4A championship game. Not really, however. Only two players who started in the 2014 final — an 84-82 Lakeville North victory — started Wednesday: Hopkins senior John Warren and Lakeville North senior Drew Stewart.
Next big thing
St. Croix Lutheran marveled at Esko 6-11 center Adam Trapp, in part for his height but also for his age.
Trapp is just a freshman.
“He’s a 7-footer. What can you do with that?” said Crusaders junior guard Ade Lamu.
The game plan for St. Croix Lutheran was to play fast and either tire the big fella or get him in foul trouble. Neither worked. Trapp, whose older sister, Savanna, is a 6-9 redshirt freshman at UCLA, maintained a presence throughout even though the Crusaders won 37-35 in the Class 2A quarterfinals.
Said St. Croix Lutheran coach Jay Wendland, “He did a nice job and only being a freshman, that’s unbelievable.”
Staff writers Ron Haggstrom, Jim Paulsen and David La Vaque contributed to this notebook.