Grab-and-go, a term usually reserved for a grocery store’s deli section, aptly described DeLaSalle’s performance Thursday against Mankato East.
However the top-ranked Islanders’ defense got the ball — whether intercepting passes or stripping Cougars’ dribblers — they rushed it down the court for several lay-ups and slam dunks.
Demoralizing man-to-man defense fueled transition baskets and DeLaSalle’s 74-40 romp at Target Center. The three-time defending state champions (26-4) advance to play at 5 p.m. Saturday in their fourth consecutive Class 3A championship game.
“To be honest, I think this is one of the best defensive games we had all year,” said DeLaSalle senior forward Sacar Anim, who led all scorers with 27 points.
Scanning the score sheet after the game, Islanders coach Dave Thorson muttered, “Wow. Three-for-19. Holy cow.”
The tough shooting night belonged to Mankato East (21-10) senior guard Gorg Alhag, the focus of DeLaSalle’s defensive efforts. He came into the game leading the team in scoring with an average of 19.8 points per game but finished with eight points.
“That was our game plan, to stop him,” said Anim, who signed with Marquette. “He’s a great player so we put different guys on him to wear him down.”
The plan worked. Statistics chronicled No. 5 seed Mankato East’s struggles. Six of the Cougars’ 15 turnovers were Islanders’ steals. And they shot 14-for-55 (25.5 percent) from the field.
DeLaSalle ran its tournament winning streak to 11 games dating back to 2012.