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Hayfield tops No. 1 seed in state quarterfinals: 'It just feels great for the kids'

Hayfield played stellar defense and junior Easton Fritcher pulled down a whopping 29 rebounds as the Vikings defeated top-seeded Legacy Christian Academy 62-43 in the Class A boys basketball state quarterfinals on Wednesday.

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Hayfield players celebrate their 62-43 win over Legacy Christian Academy in a Class A boys basketball state quarterfinal game Wednesday, March 31, 2021, at Mayo High School in Rochester. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

Hayfield forced Legacy Christian Academy to miss a lot of shots in Class A state boys basketball quarterfinal play on Wednesday at Rochester Mayo. And it seemed like Hayfield junior Easton Fritcher snatched every one of those misses.

The Vikings, the No. 4 seed in the South, used a stellar defensive effort and Fritcher's monster game on the boards to topple Legacy Christian, the top seed in the South, 62-43 to reach next week's state semifinals.

"It just feels great for the kids," Hayfield coach Chris Pack said. "They put in all the work."

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“Being the underdog, I thought we played great,” Fritcher said. “We executed our game plan perfectly and it was a great team win, a great defensive win.”

Fritcher had an eye-popping 29 rebounds in the game and he was one of four Hayfield players in double figures.

"He's only 6-feet tall, but he's got the heart of a lion," Pack said. "He wants to get every single board. I love his mentality.”

Fritcher is averaging more than 11 rebounds per game this season.

“Once the shot goes up, I just turn and box my guy and go get the ball,” Fritcher said. “I go full steam for my team so we can stop them on one shot.”

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Hayfield's Isaac Matti (11) takes a shot during a Class A boys basketball state quarterfinal against Legacy Christian Academy Wednesday, March 31, 2021, at Mayo High School in Rochester. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

There were plenty of rebounds to be had as Legacy (20-2) made just 17 of 60 shots (28.3 percent), and was just 6-for-37 from 3-point range, including 3-for-20 in the second half when the Vikings pulled away.

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“We knew we had to defend the 3-point line and we knew we had to make threes, which we didn’t do a great job of, we had six at half and finished with eight,” Pack said. “I told our guys, if we make eight or more and hold them to eight or less, I love our chances.”

With Hayfield holding Legacy's offense in check and the Vikings controlling the boards 44-32, Legacy didn't get many extra opportunities to score in the contest.

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Hayfield's Ethan Slaathaug (34) goes up for a shot during a Class A boys basketball state quarterfinal game against Legacy Christian Academy Wednesday, March 31, 2021, at Mayo High School in Rochester. Slaathaug had 17 points in Hayfield's 62-43 victory. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

Isaac Matti led a balanced Hayfield attack with 18 points and Ethan Slaathaug, the team's leading scorer, added 17, 13 in the first half. Both players hit a trio of 3-pointers. Ethan Pack had 13 points and Fritcher added 12.

“They’re just a cohesive group,” Pack said. “They play for each other. There’s no one out there playing for themselves.”

The Vikings only played five players until the final minute of the game.

“Their goal was to wear us down,” Pack said. “Fortunately we weren’t in foul trouble and our guys were in good enough shape without coming out. I just feel really great for the guys.”

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Hayfield held a slim 27-24 lead at the half. The Vikings held a 32-30 lead with 14 minutes left and then went on a pivotal 9-0 run to take control.

The Vikings were money at the line in the second half as they extended their lead. Hayfield made 15 of 18 free throws in the second half and was 20-for-24 at the line in the game.

“The free-throw shooting was huge, too,” Pack said. “We didn’t even give them a crack to come back at the end and sealed the game from the line.”

Hayfield (19-4), which has now won 14 of its last 15 games, will play in the state semifinals at noon next Wednesday at Target Center.

“It’s definitely good, obviously we were the underdog as the four seed,” Fritcher said. “I think we've stayed positive all year."

Hayfield 62, Legacy Christian Academy 43
HAYFIELD (62)
Easton Fritcher 12 P, 29 R; Isaac Matti 18 P, 5 R, 3 3-PT; Ethan Pack 13 P, 2 3-PT; Kobe Foster 2 P; Ethan Slaathaug 17 P, 5 R, 3 3-PT.
LEGACY CHRISTIAN ACADEMY (43)
Trenton Harrison 12 P, 4 R, 2 3-PT; Jake Wald 7 P; Harley Kendall 12 P, 9 R, 2 3-PT; Brian Halcomb 2 P; Charlie Bovee 7 P, 6 R, 1 3-PT; Micah Strand 3 P, 1 3-PT.
Halftime: HAY 27, LCA 24.

Free throws: HAY 20-24, LCA3-10. Field goals: HAY 17-47, LCA 17-60.

Three-point goals: HAY 8-26, LCA 6-37. Rebounds: HAY 45, LCA 33. Turnovers: HAY 10, LCA 9.

Related Topics: BASKETBALLBOYS BASKETBALL
Guy N. Limbeck is a Rochester native who has been working at a daily newspaper since 1981. He has worked at the Post Bulletin since 1999. Readers can reach Guy at 507-285-7724 or glimbeck@postbulletin.com.
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