Theo John lay on the Target Center floor Wednesday, a sinking feeling in his stomach.
Champlin Park’s 6-8 senior center didn’t see teammate Sam DuBois’ desperation game-winning three-pointer. He was lying face down, having just gotten clobbered while tipping the ball toward DuBois.
“I didn’t see it,” John said. “I got dragged to the floor, my head hit the floor. I blacked out. All of a sudden, I hear the crowd going crazy. At first, I thought Chaska had hit a half-court shot.”
John looked up and saw his teammates celebrating. His feelings changed quickly.
“That was the best feeling of my life,” John said. “Sam is always in the right place at the right time. I’m very thankful he’s on our team. I’m speechless.
Belief gets squashed
When Maple Grove and Andover met in the regular season, the Crimson won by 25 points. As a result, no one gave Andover much of a chance Wednesday. No one but Andover coach Matt Aune, that is.
“The first game was a two-point game at halftime and a two-point game with nine minutes to go,” Aune said. “We had tape, and we truly did believe that we could make some noise. Give Maple Grove a ton of credit. They saw a weaker opponent and they said, ‘Let’s go squash this weaker opponent’ and they did.”
Aune said the difference was Brad Davison. “He’s such a strong, tough kid,” he said. “We think we’ve got a strong, tough kid in Logan Rezac and I look at the comparison between the two and there is no comparison. Brad is just so much bigger and stronger.
Making some crazy noise
Big Lake didn’t win its historic first state tournament game. but the Hornets’ showed up on and off the court. School activities director Logan Midthun announced via Twitter that more than 600 students packed 11 buses.
The crowd roared loudest after senior guard Austin Miller made a three-pointer for a 36-34 lead in the second half — a basket that persuaded DeLaSalle to call timeout.
“Everyone went crazy; it was an awesome feeling,” Miller said. “Pretty close to the whole town was at the game. It was great how loud it was and how much support we had.”
DAVID LA VAQUE
Off-court hope for life
Skip Dolan’s squad always will have a special place in his heart. It has nothing to do with what Annandale’s boys’ program has accomplished on the court.
The group, along with the girls’ program, has played a significant role in “Hope For Henry.” Henry is Dolan’s grandson, who was born with three heart defects a little more than 10 months ago and has since undergone a heart transplant.
He was given a 2 percent chance to survive the first week after being born 12 weeks early and weighing just 2 pounds, 11 ounces.
“It’s really been a learning experience for these kids,” Dolan said. “It’s been a huge bonding thing for our team.”
The Cardinals are playing in their fifth consecutive Class 2A state tournament under Dolan.
“They’ve learned how basketball is a small part of life,” Dolan said. “It’s been unbelievable.”