Stunning win earns Huskies trip to state
In a stunning upset, the Owatonna boys basketball team captured the Section 4A championship to earn its first trip to state in a decade.
The Huskies upset No. 1 seed Lakeville South on its own court 94-85 March 25.
“It’s pretty amazing. It has been 10 years since we qualified for the state tournament, and so much work goes into everything every single season,” Head Coach Joshua Williams said. “To be back this point, 10 years later, we’ve had some really good teams come through our program and good players, we just have not been able to get over that hump.”
The Huskies started out the night strong, starting the game out with a 14-4 run, and finishing the first half even more dominant, leading by over 20 points.
It looked as if the second half was going to feature more of the same, as the Huskies extended the gap to 30 but, Lakeville South was not going to go out without a fight.
Throughout the second, they continued to cut away at the lead, and this began creating a ruckus environment for Owatonna to deal with, as with every basketball, Lakeville got closer and the crowd got louder.
“During one of the timeouts we called in the second half, one of things that we said that if you would have told us we were going to be up 15 points at Lakeville South, on the road, you would have said we were in a great position,” Williams said. “So, it was getting our guys to mentally refocus and understand, that yes, basketball is a game of runs, we had a phenomenal one in the first half, and they had a number of small ones in the second, and this was going to be a game that goes up and down. But we have to the ability to mentally withstand those runs and preserve through.”
That mental focus proved to be a difference maker, as despite Lakeville South chopping the lead to just five, Owatonna was able to put down some crucial shots and convert free throws to hold on for the win.
Shooting proved to be one of the biggest keys to Owatonna’s win, and leading the way on that front was junior Brayden Williams, who had 30 points on the night.
While Owatonna’s season isn’t over yet, Williams said following Thursday’s win the team was going to let this one sink in a little bit before focusing on the state tournament.
“We got to celebrate right now,” Williams said. “We are definitely going to celebrate and enjoy this, we won’t know our opponent for a couple days anyways, so we’ll make sure the guys enjoy it tonight and enjoy tomorrow. Once we know our opponent, then we can focus on that.”
The Huskies (17-3) open the state playoffs Wednesday at 7 p.m. against Shakopee (16-5) at Hastings. The winner will advance to semifinals on Thursday, April 8 at Target Center in Minneapolis.