MINNEAPOLIS – They can finally call themselves state champions.
In its fourth consecutive trip to state, the Rushford-Peterson High School boys basketball team is taking home the Class A Minnesota state title.
Top-ranked R-P defeated third-ranked Maranatha Christian 51-44 and then stormed the court Saturday at the Target Center.
It was the third state title for coach Tom Vix, who won with Rushford in 1989 and with R-P again in 2006. The trip to state also marked the 15th for the 30-year coach, tied for the most ever trips to state in Minnesota.
Alex Vix scored 23, going 4-for-7 from beyond the arc, while teammate Charlie Krambeer added 17 points for the Trojans (32-1), who tried to slow the game down.
The Mustangs (29-3) came in averaging 82 points led by 6-foot-4 Jeremiah Hanson’s 25.8 points a game.
Hanson shot well, scoring 21 on 7-of-15 shooting (4 of 10 from beyond the arc). The rest of the team did not, going just 7 of 23 from the field.
The game was tied just once – midway through the first half – before R-P went on a little 5-0 run and went into the locker room up 23-18.
From late in the first to 8:01 remaining in the game, the Trojans pushed the lead to as many as 15 – 40-25 after an Alex Vix 3-pointer – on a 17-7 run. High-scoring Maranatha then began to chip away led by Hanson.
The 6-foot-4 senior got things going with a 3-pointer and followed that with an offensive putback. Later, he assisted Max Lund on a 3-pointer and capped off the mini-comeback with another 3 of his own. That run pulled the Warriors within 43-38 with 1:23 remaining before the free throws began.
And from the line – where R-P squeaked out a 55-52 state championship in 2006 over Ellsworth – the Trojans won it, going 7-for-8 down the stretch to clinch the title.
This was a rematch of last year’s semifinal, where R-P won 53-41, holding Hanson to seven points on 3-for-11 shooting. They learned how to shut down the school’s all-time leading scorer – with over 2,000 career points. The year before, the Warriors won in the semifinals 61-45, when Hanson scored 17.