First it was Nick Katona. Then it was Cade McGraw. Finally it was Mick Wherley; the 6’6” senior displaying three fingers in the air as a timeout was called. A 12-point lead, top-seeded Shakopee moving on in the Class 4A State Boys’ Basketball Tournament on March 31 in Hastings.
Shakopee, making its first appearance since 2015, defeated Owatonna 62-49.
Owatonna, which hit double-digit 3-pointers in a 94-85 section championship win over Lakeville South, didn’t hit its first outside shot until the 9:30 mark of the second half.
By that time, Shakopee had converted eight 3-pointers and had built a 52-34 lead. Owatonna cut the deficit to 10 with an 8-0 run, but the Sabers, facing a zone defense out of a timeout were patient, running minutes of clock without surrendering a point.
Brayden Williams, 7-for-7 from the free-throw line, led the Huskies with 14 points. Payton Beyer, who was relegated to the bench for the back-half of the first 18 minutes due to three fouls, added 12 points, 10 in the second half.
McGraw (17 points), Wherley (14), Sam West (10), and Katona (10) were all in double figures for Shakopee, which is 17-5 overall.
The Sabers led 30-26 at halftime. West, Katona and Quinton Snell got to the hoop, while McGraw made a pair of 3-pointers on consecutive possessions for a team-high nine points.
Owatonna utilized its bigs, Evan Dushek and Lincoln Maher, for a combined 11 points, staying close with Shakopee despite an outside make.
Shakopee, ranked No. 6 in state, draws second-ranked Wayzata in the state semifinals at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 8 at the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis.
The Trojans, 17-2 overall, rallied from a six-point deficit, to defeat Duluth East 78-69 in the state quarterfinals. Wayzata is led by Camden Heide (18.1 points per game), Eddie Beeninga (15.1 ppg) and Carter Bjerke (14.4 ppg).
Ninth-ranked Cretin-Derham Hall and Maple Grove, which upset top-ranked Champlin Park, will meet in the first semifinal at 6 p.m.
The state championship is Saturday, April 10 at 8 p.m.