March 23, 2018 01:35 PM
(ABC 6 News)- In their first trip to the Class AA boys basketball state tournament since 2016, the Caledonia Warriors did not have a repeat performance of their 2016 tournament opener, winning the 2018 opener in dominant fashion.
In 2016, the then-second-seeded Warriors were upset by Jackson County Central in the Class AA Quarterfinals, 79-74. On Wednesday, the third-seeded Warriors turned the tide, defeating the Minnewaska Area Lakers in the Class AA quarterfinals, 80-41.
In the opening minutes of the game, the Warriors suffered a scare, as senior guard, South Dakota State University-commit and Minnesota Mr. Basketball Finalist Owen King took a hard fall to the ground following a lay-up attempt, which resulted in a bruised hip.
“I just remember going up, I got hit, right away I hit my chest on the floor, then I hit the cement on the floor before that,” King described. “It’s tough right now, hard to plant or do anything. It didn’t affect my three-pointers, but I couldn’t move as good. It’s not an excuse, but I just couldn’t move as much.”
“When you get up here for the state tournament, it usually turns into more of a physical game,” Owen’s father, head coach Brad King, said. “We’re fine with that, we’re a strong team and we have strong kids.”
Owen King did not leave the game and is expected to play in the Class AA semifinals, but the Warriors’ leader was limited to eight points—and his teammates picked up the slack in a big way.
Owen’s younger brother, Noah King, scored 14 points, while his youngest brother, Eli King, registered all seven steals and eight points in the first-half.
“I was just being aggressive,” Eli King said. “When we were trapping, I knew I had help from the other direction and I could gamble a little bit.”
“I’ll put our bench up against anybody,” Brad King added. “Guys are ready to go, our practices are great. All of our guys are capable of playing big minutes.”
Warriors senior forward Marten Morem faced a tall-task—literally—on Wednesday, as he had to go against Lakers’ 6’8 center, Shawn Carsten. Despite the height mismatch (Morem is listed at 6’6), Morem finished with a game-high 18 points and shot a perfect 8/8 from the floor.
“It was beautiful. Marten has done a fantastic job getting to the right spots and holding his position,” Brad King said. “Sometimes, it takes a little while for us to get that gap as a dribbler, and he still gets his position. He’s done a great job holding his position.”
“The height is not really a factor,” Morem said about his match-up. “It’s just fighting for position against players. I got down on my low block, he slid up and I just got in the right position.”
After taking a 37-26 lead into the locker room at half-time, the Warriors outscored the Lakers in the second-half, 43-15. Defensively, the Warriors forced the Lakers to turn the ball over 28 times—Caledonia only turned the ball over seven times on Wednesday night.
“Our defense was good in the first-half, but exceptional in the second-half,” Brad King said. “I don’t know if (the Lakers) got one open look in the second-half. We were able to take the ball away from them more than a few times.”
The Warriors will advance to the state semifinals on Friday against second-seeded Brooklyn Center at Target Center. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.
On Thursday, the Warriors said they’ll spend their off-day with practice, as well as traveling back to Williams Arena to watch the Rushford-Peterson Trojans play in the Class A quarterfinals.
The State semifinals can be found on KAAL’s digital sub-channel, 6.2 This TV.
Updated: March 23, 2018 01:35 PM
Created: March 21, 2018 09:25 PM
Copyright 2018 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company