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Litchfield's Riley Pater kept Esko's Bobby Wright from going after the basketball (Kyndell Harkness/Star Tribune)
Playing like Target Center was their home court, the Dragons made 14 three-pointers — three shy of a state record — and cruised over the Eskomos to reach the Class 2A championship game for the second consecutive year.
Litchfield (26-5) started hot and never cooled off. The Dragons made five three-pointers in a row early in the first half — four by senior guard Zach Whitchurch — to take a 17-3 lead. Esko never got closer than 11 points after that. Whitchurch finished with a team-high 22-points.
“Well, we’ve played here, I think, five times in the past two years,” said coach John Carlson. “We’ve always been a good shooting team and this is a familiar setting.
“We made 14 of 22 on three-pointers and 14 of 25 on two-pointers,” Carlson said, smiling. “I guess we should have shot more threes.”
After a double-overtime victory over Redwood Valley in the quarterfinals, the Dragons also turned up the defensive pressure on Esko to avoid another tight game. Esko’s leading scorer, Kory Deadrick, had just 10 points — 20 fewer than in the quarterfinals.
“Redwood Valley played great defense against us,” Carlson said. “We wanted to do to Esko what Redwood Valley did to us. And I think we did that.”
1) Zach Whitchurch (Litchfield)-The senior guard helped the Dragons get off to a scorching start, hitting his first four shots from behind the arc and scoring 12 of the teams first 17 points. For the game, Whitchurch lead all scorers with 22 points.
2) Zach Kinny (Litchfield)-Kinny was a force all night, taking over the game multiple times. He finished the game with 19 points, four rebounds, and four assists.
3) Casey Staniger (Esko)-The junior forward led the Eskimos with eleven points, doing his best to keep Esko in the game. He went down with a nasty looking ankle injury towards the end of the game, after the game was out of hand. Hopefully the injury isn't too severe.
Benjamin Bakker MN Basketball Hub