Owatonna's boys' basketball team made enough plays to stay within striking distance of No. 6-ranked Rochester John Marshall, but missed too many shots to upset the second-seeded Rockets in Saturday's Section 1AAAA semifinal at Mayo Civic Center. The Rockets edged the Huskies 68-66 to move to the section finals against Lakeville North Saturday, March 17. Owatonna's Abe Havelka hit a three-pointer at the buzzer for the final margin. The Huskies pulled within five points a couple of times in the second half, but spent most of the half down by eight to 11 points.

OHS put bodies and pressure on future Division I-player Matthew Hurt each time he got the ball, but he still scored 37 points through a series of layups, jumpers, fade-away shots and going 12-for-12 at the free throw line. He also had one of the Rockets' seven first-half three-pointers while they built a 40-35 lead going into the halftime locker room. Owatonna's Nolan Malo made an emphatic block of a Hurt shot in the second half that fired up the players and fans. Montrae Hiatt added 14 for JM. The Huskies held him without a field goal in their second regular season meeting.

John Marshall led 11-6 and 17-11 early. The Huskies went on an 8-2 run to tie the game at 19-19 on Jared Fett's shot with about 7:30 remaining in the first half. The teams traded baskets over the next few minutes with JM hitting a few three's and going ahead 36-29. Owatonna got within 38-35 on a four-point play when Alex Raichle hit a free throw and missed the second attempt. The Huskies got the rebound and Dalton Kubista drilled a three-pointer.

Owatonna only shot about 35 percent, while John Marshall was close to 45 percent. Andrew Jackson led the Huskies with 17 points. Kubista scored 15, going 8-for-8 from the free throw line. The rest of the Huskies were 4-for-11 from the charity stripe. Owatonna forced 21 turnovers and committed just nine of their own. The teams were even at 30 rebounds per side. Hurt had 21 of John Marshall's boards.

OHS (21-7) was appearing in its first section semifinal game since 2014. Huskies' seniors include Jackson, Kubista, Malo, Havelka and Raichle. JM (26-2) will meet Lakeville North (24-4) for the sixth straight time in the section final. North has won the previous five times. The Panthers beat Lakeville South 71-49 on Saturday. The title game will be held at the Mayo Civic Auditorium on Saturday, March 17 at 1PM instead of the Arena due to a college basketball conflict.


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