Waseca’s Malik Willingham went up for two despite defensive efforts from Academy of Holy Angels’ Thor Holien. Photo: ELIZABETH FLORES • email@example.com
Class 3A championship: Waseca (30-1) vs. DeLaSalle (26-5), 5 p.m. • Target Center
Why Waseca will win: Austin coach Kris Fadness said: “Tyrell [Terry] is playing at such an extremely high level, but when you look at the Willinghams [forward Kyreese and guard Malik] and what they can do defensively, I think they’ve got the ability to make life a little more difficult for him. [Jamison] Battle would have been a disaster for us at 6-9 shooting threes the way he does. But Waseca’s got a little more length to go contest the shots.”
Why DeLaSalle will win: “It’s DeLaSalle, my gosh,” said Fadness, whose teams lost to the Islanders in the 2012, 2013 and 2017 championship games. “Defensively, they are going to challenge every dribble, every pass, and if you don’t play every possession, it’s going to get ugly.” Not only that, but last season’s semifinal loss still burns the Islanders.
Key to the game: Princeton center Jon Stimmler faced DeLaSalle’s Jalen Travis and said: “That’s a tough battle. He’s very skilled and works for his spot every time.” Travis, a 6-7, 240-pound offensive lineman on the football field, might meet his match in Waseca’s Matt Olsem, a 6-3, 250-pound lineman who coach Seth Anderson calls “the dancing bear” for his quick feet.
One thing to know: DeLaSalle is going for its seventh state championship in eight seasons and 12th title overall. Waseca won the 1918 state championship with a 13-0 record.
DAVID LA VAQUE