The most confident athlete that Princeton's Brett Cloutier has coached, senior guard Adam Williams, sparked the Tigers' second-half surge.
Williams made four three-pointers in the second half as the No. 4-seeded Tigers held off relentless Mahtomedi for a 68-63 victory Wednesday in the Class 3A quarterfinals.
Neither Princeton (27-3), ranked first in Class 3A scoring, nor the Zephyrs, ranked fourth, shot the ball well in the first half. Williams personified both teams' struggles, making just one of his nine attempts from the field.
Williams Arena? Not for this Williams.
"It was tough to shoot," Williams said. "It was the first time since two summers ago that we played here. It comes down to trusting yourself and shooting with confidence."
No. 5 seed Mahtomedi (24-6) received a game-high 32 points from J'Vonne Hadley, who contorted himself on every drive with great success. Hadley also had 16 rebounds.
Princeton, making its first state tournament appearance since 1932, needed an emotional answer and received it from Williams. Three-pointers Nos. 2 and 3 of the second half bookended a Hadley steal and layup and Princeton led 59-50.
Then Hadley scored consecutive baskets, only to see Williams make a three-pointer for a 62-54 advantage with 3:10 left.
"That was the toughest part," Hadley said. "We felt that we were right there with them the whole game but it just didn't go our way."