As the semifinal competition got tougher, so did Rushford-Peterson.
The top-ranked Trojans defeated seventh-ranked Central Minnesota Christian 62-39 in a Class 1A semifinal game Friday at Target Center. They return to Saturday’s championship game after taking second last season.
The No. 1 seed Trojans (31-1) traded Thursday’s quarterfinal game barrage from the three-point arc for rebounding and tough defense and found similar success.
“We knew that we had play well on defense and get steals,” junior center Matt Culhane said. “Our guards did a great job of that. We had great post play and rebounding, too, and when you to that, great things happen.”
Culhane scored 11 points — double his season average — and added five rebounds in seven minutes of play. Teammate Noah Carlson led the Trojans with 16 points, seven steals and five assists, helping share the load in place of hobbled guard Cole Kingsley.
Kingsley, sporting a brace on his right ankle, scored two points in nine minutes of action.
“It felt great having him out there,” Culhane said. “Even though he didn’t play that much, that senior leadership helps so much.”
Half of Rushford-Peterson’s 36 rebounds came on the offensive end, leading to a 17-8 advantage in second-chance points. The Trojans forced 23 turnovers by No. 4 seed Central Minnesota Christian (24-4).
“Their big kids in the middle are hard to deal with,” Bluejays coach Ted Taatjes said. “But the turnovers were disappointing. We thought we had kids in the right spots but give Rushford-Peterson credit.”
Top-ranked Rushford-Peterson simply was too much for Central Minnesota Christian. The Trojans rolled to a 62-39 victory in the Class 1A semifinals Friday at Target Center.
Rushford-Peterson advances to Saturday’s championship game for the second consecutive season. The Trojans were second last season. Tipoff is 11 a.m. at the Target Center.
Check back later for more on the game.