Pulling away early in the second half, the Redwood Valley boys basketball team punched its ticket to state with a dominating 74-49 victory over St. James Area March 15 at the Section 3AA title game held in Marshall.
The win over the Saints (18-9) capped off an impressive postseason run that saw the Cardinals (16-11) completely dominate the tournament field on the way to their first Section 3AA title since 2015.
The Cardinals entered the postseason having lost five of seven but turned it on when it mattered the most, winning by an average margin of 15 points in its four Section 3AA games, including a 25-point rout of St. James in the title game.
With the win, the Cardinals advance to face Perham (29-1) Wednesday (March 20) in State Class AA quarterfinal action held at Williams Arena. The game starts at 8 p.m.
Perham’s only loss on the season was to number one seeded Minnehaha Academy, and they were the Class AA champs back in 2011.
The Cards, meanwhile, are making their fourth trip to state since 2011, most recently losing to eventual champion Melrose in the quarterfinals in 2015.
With a win they will play again Friday night at Target Center and with a loss will drop into the consolation bracket Thursday night.
In the March 15 game against the Saints, the Cards took an early 7-5 lead on a Kyle Huhnerkoch three-point play and would up the lead to 22-11 later on a three-point play from Bryant Haas and a three-point jumper from Cole Woodford.
The Saints would fight back, cutting the deficit to 24-20 with just over two minutes remaining in the half, but the Cards would respond.
Bronson Smith knocked down a three, and a Connor Josephson steal and pass to Woodford for two as time expired gave the Cards the lead and control of the game up 30-20 at the break.
Redwood Valley would come out of the gates on fire in the second half, upping the lead to 47-29 with just over 10 minutes to play and increasing the lead to 59-35 with under eight.
St. James simply had no answer for the Cardinals energy and defensive pressure and were left in the dust.
The Cards would shoot almost 47 percent from the floor in the second half and were a solid 15-of-20 from the line with just 10 turnovers.
The Saints, meanwhile, had 13 first-half turnovers and 20 in the game and shot just 36 percent from the floor and were 10-of-16 from the line.
Woodford had a great outing, leading a balanced Cardinal attack with 21 points, 11 rebounds, five steals, four assists and three blocked shots. Huhnerkoch had 12 points and three boards, Haas capped off a great postseason with 11 points, four steals and two assists and Smith had nine points and two rebounds.
Brennan Sander chipped in with seven points off the bench, Colin Wells had five points and Alex Lang added four points. Josesphson finished with five points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals. Parker Jones paced St. James with 17 points and nine boards, and Hayden Jones had 15 points and four rebounds.