Even with a section title all but secure, Maple Grove junior Brad Davison charged to the net as determined as ever.
The guard hit the floor hard after scoring the last basket of his 30-point night on Thursday at St. Michael-Albertville, but he popped right back up to ask his coach a simple question: "Did I make it?" Yes, he did, and Davison is headed to his first state tournament after leading his team to a 69-46 victory over Elk River in the Class 4A, Section 8 final. The state berth is Maple Grove's first since 2011.
"He's our leader emotionally, physically," Maple Grove coach Nick Schroeder said. "We need him to make big plays not only for him scoring the basketball but for him to create for other people. I thought he did a great job of that tonight, being unselfish, and then when he needed to get to the basket, taking contact, making tough layups."
The top-seeded Crimson (25-4) was sluggish to start and turned the ball over on four of its first five possessions. Second-seeded Elk River (23-6) got out to a 6-2 lead before Maple Grove settled down.
Davison made a three-pointer just before the first-half buzzer to give the Crimson a 29-25 lead at halftime, and Maple Grove started the second half on a 10-0 run to take control of the game.
"The biggest thing was just the defensive intensity," Davison said. "I think we've got to credit our coach for that; he really got into us at halftime and said if we wanted to win and advance we needed to pick it up on the defensive end, and I think we responded well."
Senior guard Taron Pickford added 16 points for the Crimson. Senior guard Zekiel Delain led Elk River with 14 points and senior center Trent Pink added 12.
Ben Gotz is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune