The Hayfield Vikings never panicked down double digits in the first half to the Randolph Rockets Saturday winning 68-60.  The Rockets came out of the gate on fire with seniors Dane Ehleringer and AJ Weidner hitting multiple threes to give them a early double digit lead.

The Vikings cut the lead to 34-31 at the half thanks in large part to ratcheting up their defense.  Hayfield Head Coach Chris Pack and his staff had a terrific game plan to limit the scoring of Randolph senior 6'3 Nick Drinken.  He has a knack for driving the ball to the basket, finishing with points and getting to the free throw line because of his athleticism.  The Vikings gave him rare opportunities for such success by clogging the lane when he put the ball on the deck to head toward the basket.

Drinken finished with 4 points each half and was 2 of three from the free throw line.  He was also hurt on a dribble drive attempt missing some minutes in the second half but did return.

The early success from three point range for Randolph did not continue in the second half.  They had 5 three point baskets in the first half and two in the second half.  There was a period where they were shooting nothing but three point shots and not connecting.  Hayfield extended their lead during this stretch by going to senior 6'7 Luke Dudycha.

The Rockets got a few turnovers in a row and tied the game at 53 with 3:55 to go.

Dudycha muscled up a couple of baskets and junior 6'2 Ethan Slaathaug drained a three point basket to get Hayfield in front. Randolph was forced to foul the final few minutes and the Vikings were perfect from the line down the stretch.

Dudycha had 2 points in the first half and finished with 16 points.  He was 8 for 8 from the free throw line.  Senior 6'0 Patrick Towey went six for six from the charity stripe in the final couple minutes also.  Hayfield was 18 of 22, Randolph 13 of 18 from the free throw line.

Freshman 6'1 Isaac Matti hit back to back three point baskets when Hayfield went on their run to start the second half and take the lead.

The game ended with Hayfield hitting 12 three point baskets and Randolph 7.

Slaathaug finished with 20 points to lead all scoring on the floor.  Matti and sophomore Easton Fritcher each had 10 points.

Weidner led the Rockets with 18 points. Senior 6'4 Isaac Stoesz added 13 points, Ehlringer tallied 12.

Randolph the #3 seed in Section 1A finished the season 22-7. #2 seed Hayfield is 24-5 and plays top seed Blooming Prairie Thursday night 6:00 p.m. in the Rochester Mayo Civic Center Arena.

Blooming Prairie hung on to beat Grand Meadow 52-49 at the Mayo Civic Auditorium.  The Awesome Blossoms are very talented and swept Hayfield in their two Gopher Conference contests during the regular season.

You know the old saying about it being hard to beat a team three times in a season.  I've seen it numerous times.  I believe it's hard to beat a good team three times during a season and Hayfield is a very good team.

It should be a great game.  Stick around and watch Stewartville and Caledonia too.  There will more than likely be multiple dunks in that game.

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