After the disappointment of 2016, there was no way Maple Grove was going to overlook Andover, even though it was a mismatch on paper.
The No. 2-seeded Crimson (28-2) used a 16-0 run midway through the first half to pull away from the Huskies for a 73-50 victory. Brad Davison finished one rebound shy of a triple-double — 22 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. When he wasn't doing just about everything the Crimson required on the court, he was the loudest voice on the Maple Grove bench, exhorting his teammates and giving instruction.
"Yeah, I like to talk," Davison said. "I'm just trying to be an extension of the coach, whether it's talking on defense, setting up the offense or just having a positive outlook for our team."
In last year's quarterfinals, with Tywhon Pickford out because of a knee injury, Maple Grove lost to Lakeville North.
"We had a bad taste in our mouth from last year," Davison said. "It sat with us all summer. We wanted to make a statement and get everyone's confidence up. On this stage, the biggest thing is confidence."
Andover, 11-19 after this loss, was a surprise state tournament entrant. Maple Grove had defeated the Huskies 66-41 in the final game of the regular season.
"Record doesn't mean anything. It's the tournament and they're here for a reason," said Pickford, who scored the game's first seven points and finished with 14. "We didn't want to give them any chances. We wanted to come out straight strong."