Rushford-Peterson displayed a potent offense in its first two state tournament victories.
“We can score a lot of points,” Rushford-Peterson coach Tom Vix said. “But our defense carried us all season.”
On Saturday at Target Center, the Trojans relied on their defense to outlast Maranatha Christian Academy 51-44 in the Class 1A boys’ basketball championship game.
The Trojans, who averaged 16 steals and allowed only 43.6 points per game, had eight steals and forced Maranatha into 22 turnovers to limit the Mustangs to a season-low offensive output.
“They have two great scorers,” Vix said. “We wanted to make sure we always found them. I think we scrapped and didn’t give them easy baskets. Things went our way today.”
The Trojans, who scored 105 points in their quarterfinal victory over Fond du Lac Ojibwe and 62 in their semifinal win over Central Minnesota Christian, led 23-18 at halftime and outscored the Mustangs 17-7 over the first 10 minutes of the second half to open up a 15-point lead.
But the Mustangs, sparked by Jeremiah Hanson, managed to get within 43-38 with 1 minute, 28 seconds left. The Trojans (32-1) made eight of 10 free throws in the final 90 seconds to secure their 28th consecutive victory.
Hanson scored 17 points in the final six minutes to keep the Mustangs (29-3) close. Hanson, a 6-4 senior, finished with 21 points.
Senior guards Alex Vix, who scored a season-high 23 points, and Charlie Krambeer, who scored 17, led the Trojans.
“I’m very excited for our seniors,” coach Vix said. “They really worked hard.”
The Mustangs, who shot 48 percent from the field this season, shot 37 percent Saturday and only 30 percent in the second half.
“I’m proud of our effort,” Maranatha coach Jeff Wall said. “We kept fighting. We couldn’t quite get over the hump. Give Rushford-Peterson credit, especially their defense. They didn’t give us any easy looks.”