With just minutes remaining in Friday’s game, Minnetonka was struggling to contain Chanhassen guard Maxwell Woods. But the Skippers players and coaches knew that one stop would help the team cement a victory.
Junior guard Jalen Cain did just that. He stole the ball away from Woods. The steal and his thundering dunk in the game’s final seconds helped Minnetonka secure a victory in the Class 4A, Section 2 final as the Skippers advanced to the state tournament for the first time since 2008 with a 73-69 win.
On paper, it seemed like top-seeded Minnetonka caught a break with No. 6 seed Chanhassen. However, the Storm looked to be a team that wouldn’t be taken lightly. Chanhassen had downed No. 3 seed Shakopee in the quarterfinals before knocking off No. 7 seed Waconia in the semifinals.
“They’re not a 6-seed in most sections,” Minnetonka coach Bryce Tesdahl said. “You watch them against Shakopee and we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game.”
The underdog Storm came into the gym on Friday in quite the hostile atmosphere. The Minnetonka gym was standing room only with the majority of fans wearing white to support the Skippers.
For the first time in 15 years, Minnetonka is off to the boys basketball state tournament after the Skippers held off an upset-minded Chanhassen team as the Skippers won 73-69 in the Class 4A, Section 2 championship.
The teams played close the entire game with no team holding a lead larger than six points throughout the game. Chanhassen (15-14), a sixth seed, had some advantages in the early goings as junior guard Evan Murray provided a spark off the bench with a pair of three-pointers.
Top-seeded Minnetonka (23-6) countered and ended the half leading by just a point. Senior guard Alexander Jones paced the Skippers with a team-high 10 first-half points. He finished the game tied with a team-high 20 points.
While the teams were trading blow after blow in the second half, the Storm were led by junior guard Maxwell Woods. After scoring just two points in the opening half, Woods tallied 31 points to lead Chanhassen down the stretch.
However, Woods’ effort did not lead the Storm to victory. Skipper junior guard Jordan Cain came through tied with Jones for that team-high 20 points and a key steal of Woods late in the game. He added a dunk to put an exclamation point on the victory. His brother, senior Jalen Cain contributed 11 points as Minnetonka heads off to next week’s state tournament.
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