Nasir Whitlock carried third-seeded DeLaSalle past second-seeded Orono 67-61 in the Class 3A boys basketball state tournament semifinals Thursday at Target Center.
Whitlock scored a game-high 27 points and had five assists and five steals. Whitlock, a senior who was selected Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year, scored seven straight points to help the Islanders (26-5) extend a seven-point lead to 14 with 12:29 left.
"My teammates found me in the right place to make the right plays," Whitlock said. "Coaches drew up the right plays. I just had to go out there and make the play. If I don't make the play, I look at my teammates and look at my coaches and say, 'My bad. I got the next one.' They trust me to keep going and keep playing and make the right next decision."
The Spartans (25-6) made a run to cut the deficit to nine with 10:22 left. They got as close as eight with 53 seconds left.
"We wanted to speed the game up. That's why we started to press," Orono coach Barry Wohler said. "They love the halfcourt game, halfcourt pressure. Their guard play is so solid. Nasir is able to control tempo. So it's tough to speed them up."
Isaiah Hagen led the Spartans with 23 points and five rebounds.