The Delano Tigers defeated the Columbia Heights Hylanders Saturday 65-51 for the Minnesota Class 3A State Championship at the Target Center in Minneapolis.  Not only did the Tigers not receive a seed in the tournament but they had 11 losses on the season.

The Minnesota Basketball News #19 ranked Tigers were down by 13 points at the half against the #4 seed and #7 ranked Hylanders.  Coming into the game I noted both teams were in the title tilt due to some tenacious work on the glass.  Delano dominated with 41 rebounds, 16 offensive compared to Columbia Heights with 26 rebounds and 9 offensive.

In the second half Delano had 9 offensive boards and 22 total to the Tigers 5 offensive and 10 total rebounds.  In the first half Columbia Heights had a 22-12 advantage in points in the paint and scored 12 points off turnovers to Delano's 0.  In the second half the Tigers had a 18-12 advantage in the paint and scored 4 points off turnovers while the Hylanders had 2.

After committing 8 turnovers in the first half Delano prized the rock like a Tatge Jewelry diamond in the second half with just 4 turnovers.  Columbia Heights had 2 turnovers the first half and 6 in the second half.

6'8 Delano senior Keegan O'Neill was the man for his team in the second half with 22 points and 8 rebounds.  He finished the game with 30 points and 12 boards while playing every second of the game.  Mr. Basketball finalist 6'2 Calvin Wishart finished the game with 19 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists and also played the entire game.

In fact four of the five starters logged every second of the game.

Wishart will be playing basketball next season for Georgia Southern.

Columbia Heights was led by 6'6 senior Wendell Matthews with 21 points and 11 rebounds in 34 minutes.  5'9 senior Quentin Hardrict had 10 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists in 33 minutes and 5'11 senior Deundra Roberson finished with 10 points and 4 rebounds in 27 minutes.

The Hylanders finished their season 22-7 and Delano wins their first state boys basketball title with a 21-11 record.

A reporter said to me in the hallway after the game he couldn't believe a team with 11 losses was a state champion.  My reply was, all that matters is the Delano Tigers are the Class 3A State Champions.

Austin Pacelli had 11 losses when they won a state title in 1992.  That's the year they upset a very good Faribault Bethlehem Academy team in the Region Final before heading to the State Tournament.

The Class 3A All Tournament team included Wishart, O'Neill and Derek Techam for Delano.  Matthews, Hardrict and Roberson for Columbia Heights.  From DeLaSalle Gabe Kascheur and Tyrell Terry.  Duoth Gach of Austin and Sam Vascellaro of St. Thomas Academy.



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