Third Title is a Charm
Russell-Tyler-Ruthton won their third state boys' basketball championship Saturday at Target Center 59-55 over North Woods to earn the Class A title. The Knights also won the tournament in 2004 and 2005. This game featured a series of big runs that saw each team lead by double digits and subsequently lose that advantage. The final burst was a 21-6 run by RTR that erased an 11-point second half deficit and was fueled by aggressive defense that produced an avalanche of turnovers. They outscored North Woods 24-20 in points off turnovers.
The Knights jumped ahead by 13 in the first half, but North Woods assembled a 23-5 run and took a 33-30 lead into the locker room. The Grizzlies eventually pushed the lead to 11 with 8:44 to go in the game before the game swung toward the Knights. Down 58-55 in the closing seconds, North Woods ran a play through their shooting wizard junior Cade Goggleye. But it only produced an off-balance effort that went behind the backboard. A free throw by RTR set the final score and the team sang their school song in celebration because the band was snowed in back at home. Most fans for the Knights apparently had stayed in the Twin Cities overnight, as the stands were filled with supporters.
Russell-Tyler-Ruthton (33-1) only used six players in the title game. Westin Kirk scored 18 points to go with eight rebounds. Carter Hansen scored 13 with eight rebounds and five assists. Garrett Kern added 12 points and two blocks. Jonah Johnson had seven points, three rebounds and four assists.
North Woods (31-2) finished as the state runner-up for the second straight year, having lost to Minneapolis North in the title tilt in 2017. The Grizzlies were unseeded last year, but came in as the No. 2 seed this time. Tate Olson paced North Woods with 15 points. Goggleye scored 13 with four rebounds, three assists and three steals but only converted five of his 15 shots. The Grizzlies shot 40 percent, well below their success rate of the first two games.