JM barely hangs on, reaches section title game

Rochester John Marshall had to hang on for dear life to do it, but the Rockets got it done Saturday afternoon in the Section One, Class AAAA boys basketball semifinals at Mayo Civic Arena.

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John Marshall's Matthew Hurt maintains control of the ball while being pressure by Lakeville South's Kyle Martin and Cade Carlson during the Section 1AAAA semifinal Saturday at Mayo Civic Arena.(February 2016)

Rochester John Marshall's collective heart was in full flutter.

But things are good now for the Rockets. They hung on.

They can breathe again.

JM — after beating No. 3 seed Lakeville South 65-59 Saturday at Mayo Civic Arena— is now bound for the Section One, Class AAAA boys basketball title game for the fourth straight year. And for the fourth straight time, it will be No. 1 seed Lakeville North that No. 2 seed JM will meet in Friday's 6 p.m. championship.

The Rockets are looking to get to the state tournament for the first time since 2003.


You've got to like their chances it they play like they did in the first half against South.

But if JM comes out and repeats what happened after intermission Saturday in the section semifinals? Well, then not so much.

"We persevered," JM senior shooting guard D'Angelo Tines said. "And that was a good and encouraging thing because we haven't been able to persevere in close games earlier this season. We finally got over the hump."

JM used its considerable height and talent to destroy South in the paint those first 18 minutes. They also likely took advantage of the fact that South 6-7 standout sophomore Shae Mitchell wasn't 100 percent, playing despite a bad ankle injury.

It was Rockets coach Kirk Thompson's plan to take full advantage of JM's tall and athletic front line that goes 6-foot-9 (Matthew Hurt), 6-7 (Michael Hurt) and 6-7 (Dedoch Chan).

Take advantage they did. Matthew had 14 of his team-high 20 points that first half, continually posting up South players. Michael had eight of his 14 points in that stretch, also getting most of them down low. Chan, meanwhile, was a presence inside with his rebounding, length and shot blocking.

All of that led to JM building a decisive and impressive 40-23 intermission lead and looking like it would run away with the win.

Things also looked good for JM to start the second half, with point guard Isaiah Walden quickly burying a 3-pointer, hitting another outside shot and Michael Hurt scoring inside off a rebound.


JM seemed in complete control, up by 20 — 47-27.

And then?

"I thought South then did a great job in the second half and brought a lot of energy," said Michael Hurt, who finished with a triple-double (14 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists). "And Isaiah and I, we have to do a lot better job (protecting) the ball."

South certainly wasn't in give-up mode. And JM's problems certainly extended far beyond Walden and Michael Hurt. Suddenly, with the Cougars slapping on a frenzied full-court defense, JM started living a nightmare.

The Cougars forced 12 stunning JM turnovers. A bunch of them led to easy South layups.

"You get a team down 15 to 20 points, and they're going to claw and fight," Thompson said. "(South's) season was on the line."

All of those lost JM possessions and Cougars layups clipped and clipped into the Rockets lead until with 3:22 left in regulation, it was a two-point game — 56-54.

Betting types would likely have wanted to throw down a bunch of money on South.


But good thing they didn't, because JM turned a new leaf, and in the nick of time.

"I've got to give our kids a lot of credit, because they came together and played well down the stretch," Thompson said. "They really did persevere."

Matthew Hurt came up with a big basket that he turned into a three-point play with 2:45 left. South star guard Jack Sorenson (21 points) connected on a 3-point shot with 1:53 left, again making it a two-point game.

But then an inside bucket with 1:00 left by Michael Hurt, followed by a Matthew Hurt dunk and two free throws by Michael ended it.

JM was in the section finals, again.

John Marshall 65, Lakeville South 59


Cooper Jackson 3 P, 1 3-PT; Jack Sorenson 21 P, 1 3-PT; Shae Mitchell 15 P; Blake Wacholz 12 P; Jack Swanhorst 8 P.



Isaiah Walden 5 P, 1 3-PT; Brandon Kriegel 6 P, 2 3-PT; Ray Adams 7 P, 1 3-PT; Matthew Hurt 20 P, 7 R; D'Angelo Tines 9 P, 1 3-PT; Michael Hurt 14 P, 10 R; Dedoch Chan 4 P.

Halftime:JM 40, LS 23.

Free throws:LS 4-5, JM 5-5.

Three-point goals:LS 2, JM 5.

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