Orono boys fall in exciting section final

Jarvis Thomas goes up for a powerful dunk against DeLaSalle during the Section 6AAA final. (Submitted photo)
Jarvis Thomas goes up for a powerful dunk against DeLaSalle during the Section 6AAA final. (Submitted photo)
The Orono Spartans faced the Islanders from DeLaSalle for the Section 6AAA championship at Chanhassen High School on Thursday, March 16. Many people had been looking forward to this match-up featuring the No. 1-ranked Islanders and the Spartans, ranked fourth in the state.

The atmosphere was electric, with a full crowd to watch this highly anticipated game.

Orono played the game without their starting point guard, junior Colton Codute, due to injury.

The game started out very fast paced, with the Spartans jumping out to an early 13-7 lead, thanks to baskets from senior Noel Mshihiri and juniors Jarvis Thomas and Griffin Sage.

However, the Islanders were not going away and showed why they have been the state champions the last 5 years in a row. They quickly they took a one-point lead, 16-15.

Orono got into early foul trouble with Thomas and senior Jack Anderson both leaving the game with two fouls.

At this point, DeLaSalle continued to shoot the ball very well, work the ball inside and built their lead to 12 points at 27–19.

The remainder of the half would stay at this differential, with Orono getting key baskets from Sage, Thomas and junior Max Bjorklund to keep the game within reach.

At half, the Spartans found themselves down 42–32, but the momentum seemed to be moving in Orono’s favor.

In the second half, the Spartans started to slowly chipped away at the Islanders lead, cutting it to seven points at 47-40, with Thomas and Mshihiri providing the scoring.

The lead stayed in the 7-to-10 point range for the next six minutes, until a Bjorklund lay-up and Sage three-point basket cut the deficit to four points.

The game became very exciting when a three-point basket from Anderson reduced the lead to three points with four minutes remaining in the game. The Spartans kept the game close the rest of the way, but could not get the shots to fall and retake the lead.

The Islanders won the section championship by three, with a final score of 71-68.

Leading the Spartans in scoring was Thomas with 20 points, followed by Bjorklund with 19. Thomas also led the team in rebounds with 18. Bjorklund also dished out 10 assists during the game.

“I felt like that was the state championship. Coach Barry Wohler said following the game. “It is unfortunate that the two best teams are in the same section. I was really proud of how our guys played and we had our chances to win the game. I can’t say enough about the leadership our seniors provided this year. They will be missed. I know the guys coming back will be working hard in the off season and be hungry to get to state next year.”