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Posted On: 03/12/18 2:26 PM
The Section 5AAA semifinals were held on Saturday in Halenbeck Hall on the campus of St. Cloud State University.
The first matchup of the day for Section 5AAA was a thriller! Big Lake jumped out to a 29-25 lead over Willmar at halftime, but Willmar found themselves with a two-point lead with approximately ten seconds remaining in regulation. Big Lake’s Logan Nagorski took the inbounds pass and dribbled the length of the floor, getting fouled with 3 seconds on the clock. He would hit both free throws and the ensuing half-court attempt by Noah Slagter hit the backboard wide left to send the game to an extra period. Willmar outscored Big Lake 9-4 in the extra frame, resulting in a 57-52 Willmar victory. Nagorski led the Hornets with 18 points, while Drey Dirksen led all scorers with 21 points.
In the second game of the day in Section 5AAA, it was a battle of two of the state’s best senior point guards, Calvin Wishart of Delano and Matt Todd of Monticello. The first half was closely contested, finishing with Delano on top 35-32. The Tigers would pull away midway through the second half, but a spirited comeback from Monticello made this one closer than it seemed. Delano would emerge victorious by a score of 80-76. Todd led the Magic in the scoring column with 24 on the night. Wishart carried the Tigers, dropping an impressive 48 points on Monticello.
The #1 seed Willmar will face the #2 seed Delano on Thursday night at 7pm back in Halenbeck Hall.
Here are ten of the standout performances from the action on Saturday:
Calvin Wishart, Delano, Sr. – This seems like about as good of a place to start as any. Wishart showed why he is going to a Division I college next season, and why he is one of the five finalists for Mr. Basketball. His skill and athleticism were unmatched on Saturday, and he scored in a variety of ways. Finishing at the rim in traffic, pulling up in the lane, step back jumpers, catch and shoot, you name it, Wishart has it. The 48 points he put up on Saturday was the most impressive scoring display I’ve seen all season.
Matt Todd, Monticello, Sr. – You’ll see the 24 points and just assume that Todd had a solid game. I’ll compare his performance to a starting pitcher who doesn’t quite have his best stuff but still goes out there and gives you seven innings and a quality start. I could be wrong, but it didn’t appear that Todd had his best stuff Saturday, however, he kept grinding, finding different ways to score and help his team, which impressed me. In addition, he had a number of beautiful assists, helping to get the likes of Tommy Blackstone and Rezi Useh involved.
Logan Nagorski, Big Lake, Jr. – The 6’4” junior wing finished the game with 18 points and 7 rebounds, including knocking down two clutch free throws with 3 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime. He wasn’t dialed in from deep in this game, but he displayed a solid mid-range game. Driving from the wing and pulling up in the lane or backing down a smaller defender to a turnaround jumper were his go-to moves Saturday, and they produced good results. His court-awareness and confidence to take the ball the distance with 10 seconds left were impressive, and his ability to knock down the pressure free throws tells you about this guy’s makeup.
Drey Dirksen, Willmar, Jr. – Very similar look to his game as Nagorski, relying more on the mid-range and slashing game than catching and shooting. The 6’4” forward finished the day with 21 points in addition to playing solid defense when the Cardinals extended to full-court pressure in the second half and overtime.
Keegan O’Neill, Delano, Sr. – His numbers in the final stat sheet don’t jump out at you, 9 points and 4 rebounds, but the 6’8” O’Neill’s ability to alter and contest shots, and even discourage drives to the hoop can be a game-changer. Going up against a Willmar team that doesn’t have a ton of size, O’Neill could be a big factor on Thursday.
Rezi Useh, Monticello, Sr. – On a team that doesn’t have a player taller than 6’4”, the athleticism of Useh is essential as it helps him to play much bigger, especially on the defensive end, for the Magic. He was the beneficiary of a couple dimes from Matt Todd on his way to 17 points on the day.
Spencer Hinrichs, Big Lake, Jr. – The 5’10” guard was able to stretch the Willmar defense on Saturday as he connected on 4 of 7 attempts from deep on his way to 17 points. In addition to his shooting prowess, Hinrichs ran the point when junior PG Trey Teige was on the bench, showing his ability to play both on and off the ball.
Ty Roelofs, Willmar, Jr. – Like Hinrichs, Roelofs showed the ability to connect from deep on occasion, as well as function in the lane, especially when Big Lake was playing zone, finishing with 16 for the Cardinals. He is one of a handful of somewhat interchangeable guards/wings that Willmar has, which makes them a tough team to man up.
DeVonne Harris, Big Lake, Jr. – Harris picked up 2 quick fouls against Willmar, which limited him in the first half, but when the 6’5” F/C was on the court his athleticism was a difference maker. He ended up with 8 points and 10 rebounds on the night, attacking the boards hard, blocking and altering a number of shots, and capping off one possession with an authoritative two-handed dunk. One of a handful of promising juniors for Big Lake.
Noah Slagter, Willmar, Sr. – It wasn’t his finest game, finishing with 13 points for the contest. However, it is evident that everything that Willmar does goes through Slagter, and he doesn’t shy away from the ball even when shots aren’t falling. I’ve watched Slagter three times this season, and the things that always stands out to me are his body control when driving to the hoop, above average rebounding ability as a guard, and toughness.