Waconia 5-foot-10 senior guard Alex Schmitt took seven three-pointers in Saturday's Section 2AAA semifinal game against Marshall. He made every single one of them.
It was just that kind of night for the second-seeded Wildcats, and there wasn't much the third-seeded Tigers could do about it. Schmitt finished with 37 points, and Waconia shot 66.7 percent from three-point range (10 of 15) and 57.4 percent from the field (57.4) as the WIldcats rolled to an 81-59 victory Saturday night in Waconia. They held a 47-26 advantage at the half on their way to their 13th straight victory.
"They came in hot and they just got hotter," said Marshall head coach Tom Critchley.
Waconia (20-6 overall) moves on to face No. 1 seed Mankato East in the Section 2AAA finals. The championship will be played at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Taylor Center on the campus of Minnesota State-Mankato. Marshall ends its season with a 19-9 record.
Waconia sports a roster with a several players between 6-3 and 6-6. Critchley said the opposition's size and skill made Waconia difficult to guard.
"They're big, they're pretty athletic and they normally take it hard to the basket," Critchley said. "When you have that athleticism and shoot as well as they did, it's really tough to defend."
Tanner Bukowski 1 2-2 4, Lee Christianson 1 3-4 5, Tyus DeBoer 1 0-0 2, Aaron Mathiowetz 0 2-2 2, Hunter Peterson 3 2-4 8, Austin Saugstad 4 8-11 4-7 17, Mason Schnaible 3 1-1 7, Riley Sharbono 1 2-2 5, Shawn Tykwinski 3 0-0 9. Totals 17 20-26 59. Three-pointers 5 (Tykwinski 3) Rebounds 27 Assists 7 (Saugstad 3) Steals 14 (Saugstad 3, Schnaible 3) Blocks 0 Turnovers 10 Total Fouls 23.
Ryan Boll 1 1-2 3, Alex Chandler 3 4-6 10, Wylie Ferron 5 2-4 12, Tommy Grove 3 0-0 8, Josh Lenz 1 0-0 2, Matt Rachey 3 2-2 9, Alex Schmitt 11 8-10 37. Totals 27 17-24 81. Three-pointers 10 (Schmitt 7, Grove 2) Rebounds 41 (Schmitt 6, Boll 6, Grove 6) Assists 15 (Schmitt 4) Steals 6 Blocks 1 Turnovers 25 Total Fouls 22.
Halftime Score: Waconia 47, Marshall 26.
Critchley said the Tigers expended a lot of energy trying to do anything they could to slow down the Wildcats' scoring surge. Marshall ended up forcing 25 turnovers and scored 22 points off turnovers, but shot just 28.8 percent from the field, including 20 percent (5 of 25) from three-point range. Marshall was also out-rebounded 41-27.
Austin Saugstad led Marshall with 17 points, three assists and three steals. He went 8 of 11 from the free-throw line. Senior Shawn Tykwinski hit three three-pointers in his final game to finish with nine points, while fellow seniors Mason Schnaible and Lee Christianson added seven and five points, respectively.
It was a frustrating way to end the season for Marshall, last year's section champion, but Critchley said people shouldn't use Saturday's loss to define the Tigers' season.
"We had a good season," Critchley said. "We had a lot of different guys step up over the course of the year. A big question was who was going to replace Ben (Sanders, a senior point guard who missed the year with a knee injury), and I thought everyone responded and we just continued to get better throughout the season.
"It's not about that final game, it's about how we grew as people and players. I think the guys all did a great job of that this year."
Following the game, Critchley had the tough task of saying goodbye to the team's four seniors (Christianson, Tykwinski, Schnaible and Sanders).
"Those seniors are awesome kids," Critchley said. "They're so competitive, and they're great kids off the court, too. They were very good leaders, and that was the hardest part of the game. It's not winning or losing, it's saying goodbye to such good kids who have been such a big part of not just the program, but of my life for several years."