Russell-Tyler-Ruthton advances to the state boys' basketball championship game for the fifth time after a sluggish 49-38 win over Mayer Lutheran at Target Center Friday afternoon in the Class A semifinals. Each team was ice cold shooting to open the game. M-L did not get their first point until more than six minutes into the game. By then, RTR was up just 9-1. The Crusaders didn't hit a field goal until 7:41 remained in the first half. The Knights were up 16-3 at that time. RTR led 30-15 at the half.

But Russell-Tyler-Ruthton never put the game away. RTR extended the lead to 19 with 10:14 to go in the second half, but Mayer Lutheran stormed back to within 40-36 with 2:47 to go. RTR went 7-for-10 on free throw attempts after that to hang on for the win. The Knights won back-to-back state titles in 2004 and 2005. They were state runners-up in 1988 and 1989.

RTR shot just 29 percent overall and hit three of 12 three-point tries. They were 14-for-19 on free throws. Mayer Lutheran shot 27 percent and missed all of their 21 three-point shots. RTR outrebounded M-L 52-33, which included 18 offensive rebounds. The Knights turned those into 15 points.

Russell-Tyler-Ruthton was led by Carter Hansen with 18 points, 16 rebounds and four steals. Garrett Kern scored 10 while collecting nine rebounds and three assists. Westin Kirk had 10 points with five rebounds and three steals. Mayer Lutheran was paced by 15 points from Baden Noennig who had 11 rebounds. RTR (32-1) plays for the title Saturday, March 24 at 11AM on KDHL AM 920. M-L (28-4) goes to Concordia-St. Paul for the third place game Saturday afternoon. KDHL is covering the state boys' tournament for the 70th consecutive year.