This Thursday, March 15th, the 24-6 Byron Bears will face the 25-4 Caledonia Warriors in the Section 1AA Championship Basketball game.
The number 1 seeded Warriors will face the 3rd seed Bears for the second time this year. Caledonia beat the Bears earlier in the season, 76-62. The Warriors had a 37-28 lead at half in their previous match-up. Marten Morem led at that point with 12 points, followed by Noah King with 7, and Owen King with 6. This was the game that Owen King broke his nose about half way through the first half. Owen played the second half hesitantly and ended the evening with just 8 points. Morem ended the game with 23 points and N. King ended with 22 points.
Byron closed the gap a little in the second half as the Warriors led at one point 52-48. Caledonia extended it's lead to 64-53 with just over four minutes to play and capped it off with the final, 76-62 score.
Caledonia's Regular Season Loses: Caledonia lost close competitive games with #1 Minneapolis North(79-77) and #2 Minnehaha Academy(79-75). They also lost in St. Charles 79-75 and in Rushford 53-50.
Byron's Regular Season Loses: Waconia, Waseca, East Ridge, Holy Family Catholic, Caledonia and Lake City. Byron's lose to Lake City came in the middle of Feb, 74-71. The Bears beat them earlier in January, 57-55.
Caledonia's Road to the Championship: They beat the Gophers from Chatfield 85-50 in the first round. The #9 La Crescent Lancers beat the #8 Rochester Lourdes in the first round to get their third opportunity at the Warriors. The Warriors beat the Lancers in the quarterfinals 79-45. Caledonia beat St. Charles in an excited Sub-Section Championship last week, knocking out the Saints, 99-78. (Chatfield 85-50, La Crescent 79-45, St. Charles 99-78)
Byron's Road to the Championship: The #3 seeded Bears knocked off the Triton Cobras in the first round, 53-34. They then had a second round nail biter with the Cougars of Zumbrota, but came out on top, 41-36. In the Sub-Section Championship, they faced the Lake City Tigers for the third time. The Bears knocked off Lake City, 66-63 in another nail biter. (Triton 53-34, Zumbrota 41-36, Lake City 66-63)
The Warriors goal is to keep Byron's Mankato Football commit, Point Guard #1, Michael Coble in check. Coble went off last week in the Lake City game for 35 points. Coble also scored 20 points in the first meeting against the Warriors. The next threat is Byron's #3 Bjorn Knutson, Knutson is another high scoring guard for the Bears. In the last meeting, Knutson scored 18 points against the Warriors. The Warriors also don't want to make it an easy night for the 6 foot 7 inch, #2 Kaden Koski.
I'm expecting Caledonia to stick with the starting line-up they have had in previous games. That includes seniors Andrew Goergen and Marten Morem, along with Owen, Noah, and Eli King. Noah King has had a hot hand lately, he put up 34 points in their last game against St. Charles. Owen King seems to be healthy and focused as he scored 24 points last weekend. Marten Morem has also been playing well as he had a very impressive 22 points against St. Charles. With the focus on Morem, N.King, and O.King; I expect other players like Sam Barthel, Riley Gavin, Andrew Goergen, Jordan Burg, and Noah Kearney to get some nice open shots.
In my opinion, this will be a much different game then the game earlier in the season. The match-up seems right, fast paced, and we all know the Civic Center Auditorium will be absolutely packed this Thursday. Tip-off will be at 7PM!
Don't get too comfortable in your seat before the game, because I think you'll be standing shortly after Tip-off!