Apr. 10—MINNEAPOLIS — Ryan Dufault kept dribbling to the right as the clock ticked down.
Defended well, he finally got some room to shoot as he approached the left baseline. From 10 feet away, he rose up, and his shot was true.
His shot, with just 2.3 seconds to play, won a state championship.
The Bluejays, who were the highest-scoring team in Class AA this season at 81.2 points per game, didn’t come close to that, defeating Caledonia 51-49 in the championship game of the Class AA boys basketball tournament Saturday at Target Center. The teams were scheduled to play each other this season until the pandemic interrupted, shortening the schedule and forcing teams to play opponents within their conference and area. Given Saturday’s performance, it’s a pity these teams didn’t play that game.
The high-scoring game never materialized as both teams struggled from the perimeter. The Bluejays shot 33.3% in the first half, making only 5 of 21 from 3-point range, while Caledonia (23-2) hit 4 of 14 from deep, connecting on 40.0% from the field in the first half.
Ryan Dufault and Zach Hoehn each made 3-pointers as Waseca went ahead 12-4 early, but Caledonia had an answer, scoring 10 straight points to tie the game at 19.
Dufault had two more 3-pointers, including one in the final minute to give Waseca a 29-27 lead at the break. Dufault already had 15 points and three steals.
The pace picked up in the second half with five lead changes and one tie in the first 12 minutes. Hoehn hit a 3-pointer to make it 40-36, and Dufault scored three straight for a 46-43 lead with 5 minutes to play.
Waseca had a chance to gain some separation but couldn’t covert at the free-throw line, and the game was tied with 34 seconds to play. After a timeout, and the ball was passed around, Dufault took the basketball at the top of the key and started toward the basket.
Dufault finished with 23 points, five rebounds and five steals. Andrew Morgan had nine points and eight rebounds. The Bluejays caused 20 turnovers and made 14 steals, including one by Hoehn in the final minute to give Waseca (23-1) its last possession.
Follow Chad Courrier on Twitter @ChadCourrier.