Owatonna Grinds Out a Victory in Basketball Playoff Opener
It might not have been pretty, but Owatonna will happily take the victory in the Section 1AAAA quarterfinals 56-48 over New Prague Wednesday at Owatonna High School. OHS missed some makeable shots early and was held 17 points below its average, but several players made big plays late to pull out the win. The third-seed Huskies will play second-seed John Marshall Saturday at 2:45PM at the Mayo Civic Center Arena in Rochester.
Owatonna trailed 24-20 going into the halftime locker room after a Trojan banked in a three as time expired. The Huskies finally tied the game at 39-39 with 6:45 to go. Andrew Jackson put OHS up 43-41 with 3:45 remaining. Dalton Kubista connected on a pair of free throws for a 45-43 lead with 2:55 left. Nolan Malo hit a jumper with 2:00 to go to tie the game at 47-47. Jason Williamson drilled a three-pointer from the left wing with 1:10 left to give the Huskies the lead for good at 50-47.
Kubista hit 5-out-of-6 free throws in the second half. Malo scored ten of his 12 points in the second half. Williamson also scored 12. Jackson led the Huskies with 14 points. OHS outscored the Trojans 36-24 in the second half. This is the Huskies first quarterfinal win since 2014 and their first trip to the Mayo Civic Center since a section finals appearance in 2012.
Owatonna (21-6) will get its third opportunity to knock off top-ten ranked John Marshall (25-2) on Saturday. The Rockets survived their quarterfinal with rival Mayo 67-59. The Spartans trailed by double digits in the first half but pulled within four by halftime and were still within four points with three minutes to go. JM beat OHS 82-65 and 62-46 this season.
Top-seed Lakeville North sailed by Rochester Century 92-47. No. 4 seed Lakeville South beat Farmington 58-47. The Panthers swept the Cougars during the regular season. Their game Saturday begins at 1PM. The semifinal winners will play for a trip to state on Saturday, March 17 at 1PM in the auditorium at the civic center.