Owatonna is back in the state boys basketball tournament for the first time in ten years. Under the modified format for the quarterfinals, the Huskies will play Shakopee at Hastings High School at 7 pm Wednesday, March 31. The winner advances to the semifinals April 8 at Target Center. There is no consolation round.

The game can be heard on AM 1390 KRFO, simulcasting at 94.7 FM with Brad Fischer on the play-by-play. Shakopee was on the verge of the state tournament a year ago, having qualified for the section championship. But the game never got played and there was no boys state tournament.

Owatonna coach Josh Williams says the Sabers are "deep, big, athletic...overall just a real good metro team." Shakopee's top player is junior Nick Katona, a Division II recruit for UMD, who scores about 12 points a game. The Sabers featured a balanced scoring attack with about six players averaging between seven and 13 points per game. Junior Cade McGraw scores 13 per game. Senior Mick Wherley adds 11 per contest, according to stats at the Minnesota Basketball Hub at Star Tribune.

Williams is looking for another solid defensive effort from the Huskies, "Defensively, we've got to be really good again. We try to pride ourselves on that all season long. But really it's been a push these last three or four weeks of the season to get back to where we were." He says the Huskies were very solid against Lakeville South in the section final for the first two-thirds of the game until the Cougars went on a run to trim the Huskies big lead.

"Rebounding is going to be a huge key. We got beat on the glass pretty bad against Lakeville South. I'd say probably one of the greatest strengths of Shakopee as well, just like I said with their length and their size. They're a great offensive rebounding team."

"And offensively, the name of the game is putting the ball in the basket. We've got to come out and play with a lot of confidence."

Class AAAA quarterfinals, all games on March 31
Maple Grove (12-9) vs Champlin Park (21-0)
Rosemount (15-6) vs Cretin-Derham Hall (16-5)
Owatonna (17-3) vs Shakopee (16-5)
Duluth East (16-3) vs Wayzata (16-2)

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