Southwest Minnesota Christian's Lighton Sampson (43) and Walker-Hackensack-Akeley's Caleb Ginos fought for a loose ball during the first half of the Class 1A quarterfinal game Thursday at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. Photo: KYNDELL HARKNESS * kyndell.ha
Southwest Minnesota Christian didn’t waste any time showing how much of a disparity there is between the best team from Section 3 and that of Section 8. The result was a 68-38 rout of Walker-Hackensack-Akeley on Thursday in the last Class 1A quarterfinal game of the day at Williams Arena.
The Eagles (28-1), last year’s state tournament runner-up, scored the first seven points and never let up. They built a commanding 40-17 lead at halftime.
Southwest Minnesota Christian junior center Leighton Sampson had 15 of his 17 points before halftime. Senior guard Dominic Nibbelink added 16 points.
Chris Duff, a junior guard, led the Wolves (27-3) with 13 points.
In the past 14 years, Section 3 has played in 12 state championship games while Section 8 has appeared in just one during that time.
1. Leighton Sampson, Southwest Minnesota Christian
The junior led the Eagles with 17 points, all but two scored in the first half. His 6'5 stature was only matched by Anthony Fisher of the Wolves, which led to plenty of scores inside the paint. The crowd was in awe as Sampson stuffed Seth Kimball. Sampson finished with 3 steals and that block. The Eagles only needed a half to win the game, and a half is all they needed out of all three of these stars.
2. Dominic Nibbelink, Southwest Minnesota Christian
Trailing behind Sampson was Nibbelink whom scored 16 points in 23 minutes of play. He shot 70% from 2-pt range and had the ability to take great jump shots after picks from his teammates. Nibbelink also had 3 assists on the night.
3. Klint Knutson, Southwest Minnesota Christian
Knutson was a threat early on in the game with two quick layups in the opening minutes, which led to a 10-2 run for the Eagles. Agility is Knutson's game, easily being able to weave through the paint for those layups and he always seems to be jumping for those offensive rebounds.
-Trevor Squire, MN Basketball Hub