The Hayfield Vikings hung on to defeat the Hancock Owls 61-60 for the MSHSL Class A Boys State Basketball title today in downtown Minneapolis.  I lost what fingernails I had left while the Vikings captured the hard fought win.

Hancock led early and got repeated chances late to tie the game,  Hayfield held a 39-31 halftime lead and pushed their lead to double digits midway through the second half.  In fact they had a 8 point lead with 49.4 seconds to go only to see the Owls whittle the lead to a single possession.

The Vikings missed three free throws down the stretch or they would not have been in that position.  Give Hancock all the credit.  They would not go away quietly.  The Owls forced a tie-up with the possession arrow in their favor late giving them a shot at tieing the game.

Hancock inbounded the ball and then threw it away.  They were forced to foul but Hayfield could not make back to back free throws in their final four trips to the free throw line.

Following a timeout Hayfield inbounded the ball at midcourt infront of the scorer's table. Owls junior 6'7 Matt Thompson was placed on the out of bounds passer and snatched the ball on the pass attempt to give his team another shot at a tie.

Hayfield junior 6'0 Easton Fritcher pulled down the last two defensive rebounds and stroked a free throw with  5.7 seconds to go sealing the first state title for Hayfield in boys basketball. After the made free throw Hayfield Head Coach Chris Pack told his team to come stand by him for the final seconds so there would be no danger of a foul on a three point shot that Hancock did make at the buzzer to make the final score 61-60.

In 2001 the Vikings were runnerup to Kenyon-Wanamingo.

Senior 6'3 Ethan Slaathaug had 20 points to lead a very balanced Hayfield attack. Fritcher added 13 points, 7 rebounds, Junior 5'9 Kobe Foster drained 4 three poiint baskets in the title tilt for 12 points.  Sophomore 5'10 Ethan Pack added 9 points.  Sophomore 6'2 Isaac Matti had 7 points

The Vikings played one substitute for less than a minute in the second half. Senior 6'4 Lucas Hansen was physical against Thompson and got a steal prompting lots of high fives when he returned to the bench.  Fritcher had 4 fouls and was able to get enough rest to give him energy down the stretch thanks to Hansen's play.

Thompson scored 9 of the first 11 points for Hancock but had 9 points the rest of the game.  Whenever he tried to go on the block Hayfield would double him.  The Vikings got physical with the very talented player.  You could see he was tired at the end of the game.  He finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

The game ended with both teams connecting on 24 field goals, Hancock drained two more three point baskets but Hayfield was 5 of 10 from the free throw line while the Owls finished 2 of 4.

Points off turnovers was another key statistic in Hayfield's win  The Viikings scored 12 points off 13 Hancock turnovers.  Hayfield finished with 11 turnovers , Hancock scored 8 points off those.

Both teams played tough man to man defense but both executed their offenses very well.  The Owls shot 51 percent from the field and were 10 of 20 from three point range.  The Vikings were 8 of 15 beyond the arc and shot 58 percent from the field for the game.

The welcome home celebration for the Class A State Champion Hayfield VIkings is 4:30 Sunday afternoon at Hayfield High School.  The event might be held at the football field if there is a large crowd.  Hopefully the place will be packed.

Hayfield Hoists Title Trophy. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld April 10, 2021
Hayfield Hoists Title Trophy. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld April 10, 2021

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