After spending much of the second half glued to the bench with four fouls, Cretin-Derham Hall’s Daniel Oturu was ready.
And when teammate Ryan Larson raced down the right side of the lane with time winding down and his team trailing by a point, the 6-10 Oturu’s instincts took over. He took two giant steps toward the basket, corralled a short lob pass from Larson and jammed it home, giving the Raiders a 79-78 victory over Apple Valley in the Class 4A championship game.
Photo gallery: Class 4A championship game
Apple Valley took the lead, 78-77, on a putback by Zach Korba of a Tre Jones miss with nine seconds left.
Cretin-Derham Hall got the ball inbounds before taking a time out with 5.5 seconds left to set up the game-winner.
“Ryan has the option, always, to lob that ball up or go get a layup or ajumper,” Cretin-Derham Hall coach Jerry Kline said. “We’ve been doing that all year. It was outstanding execution with the amount of pressure on the line.”
Until then, Oturu had endured a trying evening. He was involved in a skirmish with Tre Jones, a close friend from the Howard Pulley AAU U-17 team last summer, in the closing seconds of the first half and was assessed a technical foul. Jones made one of two free throws to give the Eagles a 41-40 halftime lead.
He collected his fourth foul about five minutes into the second half and was forced to watch the teams battle it out from the bench.
“My team kept playing,” Oturu said matter-of-factly. “That was most important, that the next man steps up.” He finished with 17 points, six rebounds, six blocked shots and five assists.
With or without Oturu on the floor, Jones put on a show in his final high school game. The Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year scored a game-high 35 points on a variety of slashing drives to the basket and three-point shooting.
“The knock on Tre was that he can’t shoot it,” Apple Valley coach Zach Goring said. “He had six threes tonight in the state championship game. Pretty impressive. Tre made them pay from the arc.”
Cretin-Derham Hall was led by Jaeden King, who scored 19 points after consecutive scoreless games due to an ankle injury suffered in the quarterfinals. Jacob Prince added 16 points, Sy Chatman 14 and Larson 11, along with seven assists.
Luke Martens was the only other Apple Valley player in double figures, scoring 17 points.
“What a way to cap off an unbelievable day,” Kline said. “The rollercoaster of how that game finished. Two teams just going at it. We were just able to make the last play of the game.”