Winona sticks with Johnson well into second half

MINNEAPOLIS — Twenty-five minutes into the game, Winona was tied with mighty St. Paul Johnson.

But the unbeaten and top-ranked Governors dominated the final 11 minutes of Thursday's Class AAA boys basketball state tournament contest, rolling on to an 80-55 victory over the No. 2-ranked Winhawks.

Johnson (31-0), which owns an eight-point win over the state's No. 1-ranked Class AAAA team Hopkins, outscored Winona 32-7 in the final 10 1/2 minutes to win handily.

Winona's 6-foot-11 Alec Brown missed 16 shots from the field but grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked nine shots. He totaled 15 points, making five field goals and 5 of 6 free throws.

Teammate Mark Blacklock had a team-high 20 points.


Winona takes a 28-2 record into Saturday's third-place game against No. 5-ranked De La Salle (25-5), which lost 57-53 in two overtimes to No. 4 Grand Rapids in Thursday's other AAA semifinal game.

Winona was seeded fourth in the state AAA field, with Johnson No. 1, De La Salle No. 2 and Benilde-St. Margaret's No. 3.

Surprise in AAAA

St. Cloud Tech was attempting to accomplish something it hadn't done in 30 years against one of the country's top prep sports programs, Eden Prairie.

The second-seeded Eagles, best known for their football dominance, have been rated the ninth best overall sports program in the country by Sports Illustrated.

But if the unseeded Tigers could beat mighty Eden Prairie, with its enrollment of 3,079 listed in the state tournament program, Tech would be in its first boys basketball final since 1980.

It would take two overtimes, but Tech would do it.

The Tigers beat Eden Prairie 62-58 in double overtimes to earn a berth in the state Class AAAA final. Eden Prairie is ranked sixth in the state AAAA poll.


Tech plays top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Hopkins at 8 p.m. Saturday for the state championship at Target Center.

Hopkins beat Henry Sibley 90-82 in another double-overtime semifinal Thursday.

The Tigers moved to the title game for the first time since losing to Minneapolis North in 1980 by outscoring Eden Prairie 10-6 in the second overtime.

Senior guard Alex Hanks, the 6-foot-3 blond mop-top headed to Minnesota State-Mankato on a basketball scholarship, led the Tigers with 22 points. He made 5 of 6 free throws in the second overtime.

The Tigers also got a three-point field goal from Scott Nystrom and an alley-oop layup set up by Hanks in the second overtime to clinch the victory.

Tech overcame a 27-21 halftime deficit that grew to 11 points in the second half before rallying in a rugged, ugly, physical game where fouls and missed shots dominated.

Class A as expected

Other than Rushford-Peterson's win over No. 7-ranked Springfield, the Class A quarterfinal games Thursday at Williams Arena went as expected.


No. 2-ranked Minnesota Transitions handled Cass Lake-Bena 69-47; No. 3 Sebeka eased past Mesabi East 75-51 and No. 9 Ellsworth beat Hillcrest Academy 58-53. All three losers were unranked.

No. 1-ranked MACCRAY lost to Ellsworth in the Section 3A championship game.

Senior guard Kevin Noreen scored 22 for Transitions, but that's 15 below his average for the season.

This is the fifth straight state tournament appearance for Ellsworth, which won the Class A championship in 2007 and 2008 but lost to Granada-Huntley-East Chain in last year's title game.

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