Stewartville boys top Winona to earn first state berth in program history
No. 1 seed Stewartville closed the game with a 10-2 run to defeat No. 3 Winona 56-48 in the Section 1AAA championship game.
ROCHESTER — The wait is over for the Stewartville boys basketball team.
This year's squad made program history by becoming the first Stewartville boys basketball team to earn a state berth. The Tigers secured a place in the Class AAA state tournament with a hard-fought 56-48 win over Winona in the Section 1AAA title game on Friday at Mayo Civic Arena.
“It feels great for me, it feels great for the guys, but it also feels great for the community,” second-year Stewartville coach Parker Lyga said. “And for all the past players and coaches before us, honestly this is for them.”
Junior Henry Tschetter was a freshman reserve when the Tigers lost to Caledonia in the Section 1AA championship game two years ago when his brother, Will, was the team standout. Now he has one high school accomplishment which eluded his brother.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Tschetter said. “It’s the first time in school history so that’s always fun.”
The two teams were locked in a tight and physical affair most of the way. The game was tied at 46 with three minutes to play. Top-seeded Stewartville (26-4) then went on a 6-0 run to go up 52-46 as the Tigers got baskets from 6-foot-6 sophomore Caleb Bancroft, Tschetter and Ayden Halder, all on the inside.
“When we went on that stretch (run) we were being aggressive and getting to the middle of the lane,” Lyga said. “A lot of things opened up and we moved the ball.”
While Stewartville took its time to get solid shots down the stretch, the Winhawks went cold. After the game was tied at 46, the Tigers closed with a 10-2 run.
“I thought we shot a couple of times too quick,” Winona coach Kyle Martin said. “I think that was the difference, patience against the zone. It was probably the only (bad) stretch in the whole game, but it happened at the worst time.”
Defense has been a huge factor for the Tigers all season long. They entered the game allowing 52.5 points per game, the lowest in the state in Class AAA, and held the Winhawks to more than 13 under their season average.
“If you think about our team in a nutshell, defense is the first thing that comes to mind,” Lyga said. “We’ve had the fewest points allowed in 3A the last two seasons and we hang our hat on defense and these kids buy into defense.”
Early on, Stewartville had to struggle with Winona's physical play, led by 6-5 junior center Jackson Harvey. The Winhawks pushed the Tigers around more in the first half and were able to get some second-chance points.
“They were way more physical in the first half and that probably put them over the hump,” Lyga said.
“We’ve never played a team that physical before,” Tigers sophomore guard Parker Wangen said.
Charlie Vandeberg had hit a 30-foot, game-winning 3-point shot at the buzzer in overtime to lift the Winhawks past No. 2 Austin 61-58 in the section semifinals. He hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Winona a 28-25 lead at the half against the Tigers.
Stewartville switched up its defense in the second half, which made a big difference. Winona scored just 20 points over the final 18 minutes, including a mere eight points over the final 11:43.
“We went zone on D and that was kind of the key,” Tschetter said. “We had trouble boxing out early, but I think we got over that and we ended up being more physical down the stretch.”
Bancroft came off the bench to lead the Tigers with a 10 points while Helder had nine and Wangen and Tschetter added seven each in a balanced attack. Wangen also had 10 rebounds as the Tigers, who have a number of players in the 6-3 to 6-6 range, held a 35-26 advantage on the boards.
“It’s definitely a relief, there was a lot of pressure going into the game,” Wangen said. “We knew we could do it, but we knew they were going to be tough.”
VandeBerg led No. 3 Winona (15-14) with 16 points and he had four 3-pointers. Harvey had 10 points and nine rebounds.
Stewartville, which has won 12 straight, will play in the Class AAA state tournament quarterfinals on Tuesday, March 21 at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. The seedings for the tournament will come out on Saturday.
Stewartville 56, Winona 48
No. 3 WINONA (48)
Bryan Cassellius 9 P, 1 3-PT; Charlie Vandeberg 16 P, 5 R, 4 3-PT; Isaiah Bell 6 P, 5 R; Mason Langowski 7 P, 1 3-PT; Jackson Harvey 10 P, 9 R; Wesley Wollan 3 R.
No. 1 STEWARTVILLE (56)
Parker Wangen 7 P, 10 R, 1 3-PT; Henry Tschetter 7 P, 4 R; Brady Pickett 5 P, 1 3-PT; Tegan Malone 5 P; Jason Shindelar 5 P, 5 R; Caleb Jannsen 5 P, 3 R; Ayden Helder 9 P, 3 R; Caleb Bancroft 10 P, 4 R; Max Barnes 3 P, 4R, 1 3-PT.
Halftime: WIN 28, STEW 25.
Free throws: WIN 2-4, STEW 11-14.
Three-point goals: WIN 6-19, STEW 4-14. Field goals: WIN 20-53, STEW 20-43. Rebounds: WIN 26, STEW 35.
Stewartville on 6-0 run to lead Winona 52-46, 1:08 left. 1st hoop in run here, by Caleb Bancroft. pic.twitter.com/4m6SwbvSFx— Guy N. Limbeck (@PBglimbeck) March 18, 2023
Charlie VandeBerg with a 3 at the buzzer and Winona leads Stewartville 28-25 at half in Section 1AAA boys basketball championship game. pic.twitter.com/qOPZBnYCqA— Guy N. Limbeck (@PBglimbeck) March 17, 2023
Parker Wangen with a 3 as Stewartville ties Winona at 25, 30 seconds left in half. pic.twitter.com/tqY8p8eb8g— Guy N. Limbeck (@PBglimbeck) March 17, 2023