Stewartville boys to face perennial power in state tournament opener

The Stewartville boys basketball team will face No. 3 seed DeLaSalle in a Class AAA state quarterfinal at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Williams Arena.

Stewartville, Winona Section 1AAA boys basketball championship
Stewartville’s Tegan Malone (11) goes up for a shot defended by Winona’s Charlie VandeBerg during the Section 1AAA boys basketball championship game on Friday, March 17, 2023, at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester. Stewartville will play DeLaSalle in the Class AAA state quarterfinals on Tuesday, March 21, at 4 p.m. at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

STEWARTVILLE — The Stewartville boys basketball team is unseeded and going up against a Class AAA state power, but the Tigers seem unfazed heading into the state tournament.

The Tigers (25-4) will face No. 3 seed DeLaSalle (24-5) in the state quarterfinals at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Williams Arena. DeLaSalle won Class AAA state titles in 2015, ‘16, ‘17 and ‘19 and it was the runner-up a year ago.

“They’re a very good team, they’re super athletic,” Stewartville coach Parker Lyga said. “But at the same time I’m not upset about our draw at all, I kind of like it.”

While DeLaSalle is nearly a perennial state participant, Stewartville has qualified for state for the first time.

“We’re just really excited for the opportunity,” Lyga said.


The Tigers enter state play against the Islanders on a 12-game winning streak.

“I think we match up pretty well with them,” Lyga said. “They have some bigs (players), but they’re pretty similar to us when it comes to athletes. They might be a little faster than us, but at the same time we have different things to throw at them.”

The Islanders do have some star power.

DeLaSalle is led by 5-10 guard Nasir Whitlock, who averages about 28 points per game. He scored a single-game school record 52 points in a win over Hopkins earlier this season and he has committed to Division I Lehigh University.

“He’s a smooth player and very gifted offensively and he’s going to be a tough matchup,” Lyga said.

Parker Wangen, an athletic 6-4 sophomore guard, will draw the task of guarding Whitlock.

“He’s really looking forward to the challenge of that,” Lyga said.

Stewartville has been a stellar defensive team all season and allows just 52.3 points per game, the lowest among all teams in Class AAA. The Tigers allowed an average of just 38 points per game in three Section 1AAA tournament victories.


“I think our defense is going to take us a long way,” Lyga said. “It’s a statement as old as time, but offense wins games and defense wins championships and that’s what we pride ourselves in.”

DeLaSalle runs mostly a man-to-man defense while Stewartville will rotate between man-to-man and zone. The Tigers effectively used a zone in the second half in the Section 1AAA title game against Winona.

The Tigers plan on mixing in some different pressing defenses along with switching from man-to-man to zone in the half-court set.

While Whitlock has been the key to the DeLaSalle offense, Stewartville has used a balanced attack this season.

Junior guards Henry Tschetter (15.2 points per game), Tegan Malone (10.1) and Wangen (10.0) all average in double figures scoring while four other players average at least 6.5 points per contest.

“We just have a really close group and we’re really balanced,” Tschetter said. “There’s a different leading scorer every night.”

“You don’t have to stop just one guy with us,” Lyga said. “You’ve got to key on three or four guys because we’ve had five or six guys go off for 15-plus points this year. It makes us a little tougher to guard in my opinion.”

The Tigers will be playing in their first state tournament and Lyga expects the team to have a case of the jitters.


“If we get that first bucket to fall and the nerves get out of there, I think we can play a faster competitive game with them,” Lyga said. “But if we come out of the gates slowly it might be more of a mix for us.”

The Stewartville/DeLaSalle winner will move to the state semifinals against the Orono/Hermantown winner at 2 p.m. Thursday at Target Center. The loser will play in the consolation semifinals at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

“We’ve really just come together as a team and a family and that really set us apart, I think,” Wangen said.



Tuesday, March 21

At Williams Arena


No. 1 Totino-Grace (21-8) vs. St. Francis (17-12), 10 a.m.

No. 4 Mankato East (24-5) vs. No. 5 Alexandria (24-4), 12 p.m.

No. 2 Orono (24-5) vs. Hermantown (22-6), 2 p.m.

No. 3 DeLaSalle (24-5) vs. Stewartville (25-4), 4 p.m.



Thursday, March 23

At Target Center

Totino-Grace/St. Francis winner vs. Mankato East/Alexandria winner, 12 p.m.


Orono/Hermantown winner vs. DeLaSalle/Stewartville winner, 2 p.m.


Wednesday, March 22

(At Concordia University)

Totino-Grace/St. Francis loser vs. Mankato East/Alexandria loser, 2 p.m.

Orono/Hermantown loser vs. DeLaSalle/Stewartville loser, 4 p.m.


Thursday, March 23

(At Concordia University)

Consolation semifinal winners, 4 p.m.


Saturday, March 25

At Target Center

Semifinal winners, 5 p.m.


Saturday, March 25

(At Concordia University)

Semifinal losers, 2 p.m.

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
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