Facing one of the hottest teams in the state, the White Bear Lake Area boys basketball team was shooting its way right along with Wayzata early Tuesday in the Class 4A quarterfinals at Target Center.
The Bears might have fallen too much into the opponent’s pace and strategy.
White Bear Lake Area’s shots started to miss the mark and the Trojans’ upped the pressure to advance in the state tournament with an 81-61 win.
“Every time they had an open look tonight, they made it,” Bears coach Greg Burke said. “We ran out of bullets a little bit, or we ran out of ammunition as far as shooting the ball. This is what they do. We like to play inside-out a little bit more. We did make some shots early and maybe we fell in love with it a little bit too much because we normally play inside-out. They normally shoot threes, and we couldn’t make enough of them tonight.”
Jack Janicki led White Bear Lake (21-8) with 16 points, but he was 5-of-18 shooting from the field in the game. Jack Misgen added 15 points for the Bears and Zachary Nelson scored 12 points. But White Bear Lake shot 35.1% for the game and couldn’t upset third-seed Wayzata.
Hayden Tibbits led the Trojans with 17 points. Jackson McAndrew had 14 and Isaiah Habte finished with 13. Ben Shaffer scored 12 off the bench. Wayzata (25-4) will face No. 2 seed Lakeville North in the semifinals.
“I thought we competed really hard,” Trojans coach Bryan Schnettler said. “We shot the ball really well, which is fun to see. You never know when you come here how it’s going to go and our guys, obviously, were pretty confident and we’re going to need that moving forward the rest of the week here, as well.”
Wayzata shot 54.2% from the field and, true to their form, were 13 of 24 from three-point territory.
Misgen converted a layup to put White Bear Lake Area up 20-19 with 5:39 left in the first half. But the Trojans countered with a 16-0 run to take control.
“I think they did a good job of playing at their speed during that stretch, and getting the ball up the court quick and spreading the court,” Janicki said. “In my mind, it was, ‘Get back to what we do.’ Which, I think we did better in the second half. But it was hard to completely stop the bleeding at that point.”
McAndrews had six points during the run for Wayzata, and Schnettler credited the defensive focus for the run.
“I thought we cranked up the pressure during that run,” Schnettler said. “Our ball pressure was great. We were able to get out in transition and get some easy ones. Obviously, when guys like (McAndrew) and (Shaffer) and some other guys are hitting threes, it kind of opens the game up a little bit.”
The Trojans started the season with three straight losses, including to Lakeville North, but have won 25 of 26.
The Bears, in their first state tournament appearance since 2000, will face Buffalo in the consolation bracket.
“This is what we wanted the whole year,” Janicki said. “Obviously, we wish the scoreboard looked a little bit different at the end, but we had a great year.”
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