Leaving the locker room before the Class 2A semifinal, Lake City guard Jake Wohlers let loose with a series of full-throated yells, eager with anticipation.
That was as good as it would get for the Tigers.
Two-time defending champion Minnehaha Academy had too much of everything for game-but-overmatched Lake City to handle, advancing to its third consecutive Class 2A championship game with an 82-52 victory Friday at Target Center.
Jalen Suggs did his usual thing from the guard position: scoring, creating offense, maneuvering with ease through the defense of Lake City (27-3). Seven-foot center Chet Holmgren showed a versatility not expected of a player his size. Freshman Prince Aligbe looked like anything but a ninth-grader with his power and athleticism.
The rest of the Redhawks — quality role players such as Siegel Howard, Kaden Johnson and Craig McDonald — filled out what Lake City coach Greg Berge called "one of the top two or three teams in the whole state of Minnesota."
The key to Minnehaha's victory was its ability to get easy fast-break baskets. The game was decided early in the first half when the Redhawks (28-2) went on an 18-3 run, opening up a 27-8 lead.
"That's when we're at our best, in transition," Minnehaha coach Lance Johnson said.
While the ultra-talented Suggs gets the headlines, it was Holmgren, a sophomore with a wingspan near 7 feet 4, who most stood out. At his height, he's expected to be a difference-maker on defense. What makes Holmgren special are the skills few expect from a player with his length. He hit two three-pointers. He drove to the basket and finished with authority. He powered down alley-oop dunks. He even led a fast break that resulted in an easy layup.
"People tell me sometimes that I don't look like I'd be a good basketball player, that I'm just tall," Holmgren said. "I love the criticism, love the hate. It pushes me, drives me to get better. I just go out there and work hard, and I guess it's paying off."