Late in the first half Saturday, a St. Paul Johnson player tried to save possession by firing the ball off DeLaSalle’s Josh Collins and out of bounds.
Thinking fast, Collins caught the ball and went up for an easy lay-in. The Class 3A boys’ basketball championship game went in a similar manner. The Governors’ attempt at chaos failed to rattle a composed DeLaSalle team, turning a matchup of the consensus two best teams in Class 3A into a one-sided affair.
Top-ranked DeLaSalle ran away for a 82-64 victory at the Target Center, becoming the third school in the 103 years of state tournaments to win four consecutive state championships. Minneapolis Henry achieved the feat from 2000-2003, also in Class 3A. Southwest Minnesota Christian won four Class 1A titles from 1999-2002.
“About 15 years ago I had a hard time savoring the moment,” Islanders coach Dave Thorson said. “The last couple years I’ve got older and wiser. I love these kids.”
Then he joked, “I’m probably not going to watch film tonight.”
Spoiler alert: The Islanders (27-4) dominated all facets of the game, rendering second-ranked Johnson (27-4) stagnant. The Governors posted the same number of turnovers (23) as they did successful shots from the field.
DeLaSalle scored 24 points off turnovers and 20 second-chance points, testaments to their advantage in transition and inside.
Marquette-bound DeLaSalle senior forward Sacar Anim led all scorers with 32 points. Collins, who committed to North Dakota, added 17 points and 13 rebounds. Sophomore Goanar Mar chipped in 14 points. Senior guard Jarvis Johnson scored nine points. His future college coach, Minnesota’s Richard Pitino, was in attendance.
The Islanders went on runs of 10-0 and 12-0 during the first half. The Governors went a little more than five minutes without a bucket until almost halftime.
“It wasn’t necessarily about them, it was more about ourselves,” Johnson senior center Justus Murphy said. “As a team we weren’t connecting. We should have come out with more intensity.”
Collins scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds, five of them on the offensive end, in the first half. DeLaSalle dominated inside, outrebounding Johnson 45-37 for the game and limiting many Governors’ possessions to one shot.
“Rebounding and boxing out are things of the past,” Thorson said. “You’ve got to cut out, be aggressive and assertive. And we had five guys cutting out both Thursday and [Saturday].”
DeLaSalle’s storm door defense held up against repeated, frenzied Governors’ tries. The Islanders interception several pass attempts from the free-throw line to the end line. Johnson turned the ball over 13 times in the first half, exceeding coach Vern Simmons imposed limit of 10.
Senior guard Jalen Mobley, playing in his third state tournament, led the Governors with 19 points on a 7-for-23 shooting performance.
“We got stops and finished strong,” Anim said. “They got to us early but we slowed the game down and played to our pace.”
DeLaSalle dominated a showdown between the top two teams in Class 3A, winning the state title with a 82-64 victory against St. Paul Johnson on Saturday at Target Center.
DeLaSalle became the third school to win four consecutive state championships. Minneapolis Henry achieved the feat from 2000-2003, also in Class 3A. Southwest Minnesota Christian won four Class 1A titles from 1999-2002.