Warriors exact revenge, head to state semifinals
MINNEAPOLIS – Jason Burg never dunked before. Not in a varsity game, anyway.
The 6-foot-4 senior picked as good a time as any. On the Williams Arena floor. At State. When his team needed it most. And against the team that ruined their state-title hopes last year.
The Caledonia High School forward scored 18 points in leading his team to a 72-66 Class 2A state opening win over Annandale. At 8 p.m. Friday at the Target Center, the Warriors (27-4) will play third-seeded and sixth-ranked Maple River (28-3).
After that, all the Cardinals (20-11) could do was tread water, never getting closer than five points of second-ranked and second-seeded Caledonia.
Cole Lampert had a big hand in that run, as well. The 6-foot junior assisted those final two buckets by Burg, scored the one before that and finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
But this game wasn’t so much about Burg’s effort, or Lampert’s. It wasn’t about Caledonia’s horrific start – getting down 19-10, before a 25-3 run and going into half up 35-29. And it wasn’t about Caledonia finishing with 15 assists on 24 field goals or having four finish in double figures.
What may have been the key to the Warriors’ win was their defense on 6-foot-6 forward Chase Knickerbocker.
The senior, who is signed to play for Minnesota-Crookston, averages 27.1 points a game. He scored 24 against Caledonia. He scored 24 last year, as well, when Annandale won 81-76.
This time, the Warriors held him to just 2-of-11 shooting from beyond the arc – 8 of 21 from the field. He also had four turnovers.
Annanadale turned it over 11 times to Caledonia’s six. That was the big difference. Those extra possessions gave the Warriors more opportunities. They finished 24-for-60 from the field and 19 of 30 from the free-throw line. Annandale was 20-for-54 and 16 of 20 from the line.